Valentine (2001)

Valentine is a post-Scream slasher that feels closer to a giallo than an American slasher at times, with elaborate death sequences and a masked killer who wears the face of Cupid. It’s packed with the hottest actors of the early 2000’s and directed by Australian Jamie Blanks, who also made Urban Legend and remade Long Weekend in 2008.

The movie starts at a St. Valentine’s Day dance in 1988. Jeremy Melton, the school geek, asks four different girls to dance. Three of them — Shelley, Lily and Paige — instantly reject him while Kate at least gives him a break and says, “Maybe later.”

He finally hooks up with Dorothy, an overweight girl, and they make out in the bleachers. A bully finds them and everyone starts to laugh at the two of them until she claims that he is raping her. This removes Jeremy from school and their lives.

One by one, these girls are stalked and killed. Shelley is now Katherine Heigl and a UCLA med student. After getting a Valentine in her locker, a killer in a trench coat and Cupid mask stalks her and slices her throat. As she dies, his nose begins to bleed. I’m assuming that the people who made this hoped that none of us had ever seen Alone in the Dark.

At her funeral, Kate (Marley Shelton, Grindhouse), Lily (Jessica Cauffiel, Legally Blonde), Paige (Denise Richards), and Dorothy (Jessica Capshaw, daughter of Kate) are questioned by the police. They all get the same Valentines, like the one Dorothy gets that goes so far as to say, “Roses are red, Violets are blue, They’ll need dental records to identify you.” She’s no longer heavy and is part of the in crowd, with a boyfriend named Campbell — who may or may not be a con artist but is definitely a giallo-style red herring.

Lily gets chocolates, but they’re filled with maggots. And at the exhibit of Lily’s boyfriend Max (Johnny Whitworth, AJ from Empire Records), Lily is chased by the killer through the exhibits until she is shot multiple times with arrows — ala the real Saint Valentine — and falls to her death inside a dumpster.

They all realize that the initials on the cars are JM, which means that the killer could be Jeremy Melton. Dorothy admits her lie that sent Jeremy to reform school. It’s at this point that the lead cop, Detective Leon Vaughn (Fulvio Cecere, whose movie 350 Days is all about the life of a pro wrestler) hits on Paige and she strongly rebuffs him.

Kate’s neighbor breaks into her apartment as he has been stealing her panties and is killed with an iron. And as Dorothy plans a huge party, Campbell is killed with an ax. Her friends all assume that he has simply dumped her as she’s still the fat girl in their eyes. Of course, if she listened to Ruthie, Campbell’s crazy ex, she’d know the truth. But she gets brutally killed at the party in a kill that’s reminiscent of Deep Red.

At the party itself, Paige is electrocuted in a hot tub and the power cuts out. Dorothy and Kate begin to argue over who the killer’s identity, with Kate saying that its the mysterious Campbell, while Dorothy accuses Adam (David Boreanaz of TV’s Angel), Kate’s alcoholic ne’er do well boyfriend. They then learn that Lily never made it to California and that she may be dead. After a call from Detective Vaughn, they start to investigate further. As they worry about their safety, they try to call him back but get no answer. Suddenly, they hear a ringtone and follow the sound of it until they find his severed head outside the house.

Kate is absolutely convinced that Adam is Jeremy and runs back inside the house to find him waiting for her. He asks her to dance, but she gets freaked out and runs from him — right into the corpses of Paige and Ruthie. That’s when the Cupid killer runs right into her but is shot by Adam. The mask falls off to reveal Dorothy.

Adam finds it in his heart to forgive Kate, explaining how if you have enough childhood trauma, like how Dorothy dealt with the abuse of being overweight, that anger can stay with you and cause violence. They wait for the police to arrive as he embraces her, telling her that he always loved her. She closes her eyes and we notice that his nose has begun to bleed.

There are plenty of red herrings along the way, like Dorothy’s cherub necklace that could point to her as the killer. And then there’s the fact that that necklace really belonged to Ruthie. But after that gets dealt with, it’s pretty obvious who our killer is.

I liked how each of the murders ends up corresponding to the horrible things that the girls said to Jeremy at the dance, like Paige’s claim that she’d “rather be boiled alive” actually ends up happening.

It’s also refreshing that the women in this, by and large, are aware of how men try to use them and respond in modern ways, such as Paige shutting down the main detective.

Valentine isn’t the best movie you’ll watch, but you can get it for $3 at most streaming sites and for around $2 or less at most used DVD stores. That’s a decent enough price to spend — it goes down as easily as a Valentine’s chocolate but won’t stay with you much longer than a summer fling.

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