Title: ValentineDirector: Jamie Blanks
Starring: David Boreanaz, Denise Richards, Marley Shelton, Hedy Burress, Jessica Cauffiel, Katherine Heigl
Plot: Five girls who rejected the school geek at the school dance now years later find themselves being targeted by a mysterious Cherub-mask wearing killer.
Review: Yet another film that I’ve been meaning to watch for years only to continually get distracted by other films in the watch pile. It is also a film I remember coming out when I was in college surrounded by heavy advertisement only to suddenly disappear without it gaining any real traction with audiences it seemed. Despite this the idea of a Cherub mask wearing killer did sound an appealing one and no doubt the reason it remained on my watch list for so long.
Opening on Valentine’s day 1988, here we see the hopeless romantic geek Jeremy going from one girl to the next asking if they want to dance, only to continually get shot down. However it appears that his luck might be in when the overweight Dorothy accepts his invitation to dance which soon leads to them making out underneath the bleachers. Sadly things don’t exactly work out for Jeremy as when the pair are spotted by the school bullies, she claims that he sexually assaulted her leading the bullies to then turn into a pack of vigilantes as they publicly strip Jeremy before preceding to beat the holy out of him while the students and teachers seemingly do nothing about this! Of course the girls meanwhile all go on to grow up to become popular and attractive, while the film seemingly insists that these girls were friends back in school, even if their childhood versions seemed to belong to different groups to each other with no indication of any of them ever being friends. It’s also really once we see the girls all grown up exactly what sort of casting decisions were made for the film, seeing how all the girls seemingly have been cast more for their looks than their acting abilities, something which soon become blatantly obvious when faced with another 70 mins of their vacant expressions ahead of you.
Despite being released in 2001, this film still appears to be aiming for the same filming style of the 90’s horror movies which followed in the wake of “Scream” which revitalised the horror genre and generated a slew of counterparts it generated and certainly a wave of films which you’d be forgiven that this film belonged to. I was equally surprised to learn that this film was directed by Jamie Blanks who previously gave us one of the more underrated 90’s horror movies with “Urban Legend”. Sadly this film is nowhere near as good which to Blanks credit he has apologised while seemingly indicating that it was a less than smooth production for the film which also had to contend with the TV schedules of both Katherine Heigl who was attached to “Roswell” and Boreanaz who was attached to “Angel” meaning that both actors only had a limited amount of time to shoot their scenes with Heigl in particular only having three days for her scenes which equate to little more than a fleeting appearance here as blanks gives his own spin on the classic “Scream” opening which despite having a cool kill lacks the same kind of impact.
One of the main issues the film has though is that none of the cast are particularly likable, more so when they constantly seem so self-involved and wrapped up in their own issues that it makes it impossible to form any kind of connection, let alone believe that they are as good a friends as they claim to be. At the same time every male character in the film is portrayed as being a horny sleaze ball who cares only about picking up one of the four girls. Even the detective whose supposed to investigating the killer stalking them isn’t amused from this as he randomly tries to pick up the sexually aggressive Paige (Richards) which seemingly all he does apart from making some half-baked attempts at trying to identify the masked killer. The only exception here is Boreanaz who appears as Kate’s (Shelton) boyfriend but even then his appearances throughout are so sporadic that it leaves you wondering if the was any real direction for his character other than to help setup the finale, while Boreanaz continues to prove that movies are not were his talents lie (see “The Crow: Wicked Prayer” for further proof) as most of his performance seems to revolve around him recycling his broody performance for “Angel”.
Elsewhere not even the killer is free from the many issues of this film as while the mask makes for a cool look especially when combined with his all black ensemble. What the mask also unfortunately does is to give him the impression of him having a tiny head when we see him in any full length shots, which perhaps takes away some of the threat that he could have processed had he not looked so unintentionally funny during these shots. At the same time when it comes time to do the big reveal what could have been a clever twist ends up feeling strangely clumsy thanks to the events leading up to the showdown making little sense with characters suddenly showing sides to them which feel that they were written in while filming.
What saves this film from being a complete write off those is that it contains some really inventive kills, the majority of which are shot with like an 80’s slasher, making them a strange fit for the rest of the film which is very 90’s in its style and more so when a number are far more graphic than the majority of movie deaths from this period which tended to favour the less is more approach spearheaded by “Scream”. Amongst the kills we get a nasty looking throat slit, death by bow and arrow (well he is wearing a cherub mask) with the best of course involving a hot tub and a power drill! One trick that the film does miss though is during the scene leading up to the hot tub death in which it appeared that Blanks was going to recreate the raptor attack from “Jurassic Park” and have the killers face suddenly appears out of the plants, but sadly it does happen. Still the kills are all well-handled and no doubt the one good thing you’ll take away from this one.
A heavily flawed film with its clunky script and unlikable characters make this far from the easiest film to sit through even if you’re just watching it for the death scenes.