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2001 - R - 97 Mins.
Director: Jaime Blanks
Producer: Dylan Sellers
Written By: Aaron Haberts, Donna Powers, Wayne Powers, Gretchen J. Berg
Starring: Denise Richards, Mareley Shelton, Jessica Capshaw, David Boreanaz, Katherine Heigl
Review by: Joe Rickey

Denise Richards waits in a hot tub for her next
A horror film in the spirit of the relatively non-reverential camp slasher films of the 80’s, ‘Valentine’ tells the story of a group of self-absorbed women who find themselves being stalked by a masked killer (This time the killer dons a Cupid mask and wields a bow and arrow along with the old standby, the butcher knife). They believe that the killer is a kid they each rejected back in high school back for some belated revenge. Despite this, they dumbfound the audience by each dating a man they hardly know. Gee, I wonder if one of the men happen to be the killer?

The film isn't as terrible as that synopsis makes it sound; rather this Jaime Blanks (‘Urban Legend’)-directed film is kind of workmanlike in its portrayal of various people getting killed off one by one before the eventual unmasking of the culprit and what now seems like the obligatory twist ending. I’m frankly surprised that there hasn’t been word of a ‘Valentine 2’ yet since it likely could be made on the cheap and therefore, would easily recoup its miniscule costs.

Slasher films. Violence-fearing politicians despise them but they have been a mainstay in film for years. Since the original ‘Halloween’ frightened audiences in 1978 and ‘Friday the 13th’ kept kids home from summer camp two years later, this sub-genre of horror films has been produced on a steady diet by Hollywood after it was realized that because such films could be produced for very little money, it became almost a guarantee that profit would be made from such ventures time after time.

‘Valentine’, released in 2001, came at the tail end of the post-‘Scream’ rebirth of slasher films, following in the footsteps of ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ and its sequel, and ‘Urban Legend’ and its sequel. Like the aforementioned films, it stars a bunch of young nubile people (In this case, Denise Richards, Marley Shelton, and David Boreanaz, among others) whose job it is to either die a gruesome death (Not too gruesome though, as ‘Valentine’ was reportedly heavily edited because of pressure from politicians who believed that such films were to blame for school shootings around the country) or to live to unmask and defeat the killer. My number one question regarding the process of editing this film’s violence down: What is the point of editing the violence if the resulting film is still going to be given the R rating? If a movie scores an R, why not go all out to the brink of what's allowed in such a film because fans of these films expect violence and plenty of it. By cheating the fans you’re alienating your core audience, and everyone knows that certainly isn’t the recipe for a successful box office run. Jaime Blanks' other film, ‘Urban Legend’, is much more violent than 'Valentine.'

That said, this film really isn’t all that bad if one can disregard the fact that it really doesn’t deliver what fans might expect from in the violence department. ‘Valentine’ is a formula example of a slasher film as the seemingly unstoppable killer devises increasingly creative ways to kill people whose job it is to run valiantly away from the assailant and attempt to hide from the attacker before making a dumb mistake and being killed. Despite the predictable nature of such a film, it's still fun to guess who's the killer and in what order will people be killed off. There's never really a question of which character is earmarked to be the one who triumphs over evil and lives to see the end of all the killings as ‘Halloween’ established this formula down to a tee and ‘Valentine’ doesn’t deviate from it one bit.

In the end, if one is looking for a recent example of a slasher film and doesn’t mind something that has a formula feel, ‘Valentine’ is right up your alley.

Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

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