Film Review: Valentine

This movie is 20 years old, but I’ll still toss in a spoiler warning: Spoilers ahead!

Looking at that tagline … I don’t know if it’s the first, but now I’m definitely considering this a film about an incel.

I’m about six days late to this, but on Valentine’s Day, I watched the 2001 slasher film, Valentine.

I have no idea how an early 2000s slasher film starring Denise Richards, Katherine Heigl, David Boreanaz (my Bones guy!) — and one based around a holiday, which is always fun — flew under my radar for the last 21 years, but it did. Interestingly, two of the actresses in this, Heigl and Jessica Capshaw, would go on to star in Grey’s Anatomy.

In this slasher, a group of women in San Francisco are getting stalked by a killer wearing a Cupid mask, of course, which makes for a pretty fun, creepy visual.

From the get-go, it seems like we know who the killer is because the film starts with a flashback to a 1988 Valentine’s Day dance at a junior high, where Jeremy Melton keeps asking the girls to dance, only to be shunned. Then he asks Dorothy, the richest girl of the lot, but who was heavier at the time, and they end up making out behind-the-bleachers. When the school bullies discover them, Dorothy lies that Jeremy attacked her.

He gets brutalized and shamed by the bullies because of it. In front of everyone.

So, Jeremy must be the one coming after them all of these years later, right? Because they said no to him a junior prom? Maybe. It’s in the mold of Scream, which came out five years prior, as a lot of films of that age were trying to replicate the success of Scream, where there’s a killer behind the mask and the slasher is really aimed at the whodunit aspect more than anything. Who is the person (persons?) behind the mask?

Unfortunately, the most interesting character of the bunch, Heigl’s Shelley, is the first one killed, which I think surprisingly took about 20-some minutes, maybe longer, into the film before we even saw a kill. I liked her! She was interesting and charismatic. But, that’s also in keeping with Scream. Kill one of the bigger names at the start to set the tone and upend expectations.

No lies detected.

On the other hand, Paige was the most annoying character of the bunch, and with all due respect to Richards, she’s not the greatest actress, either. She was annoying because she kept doubting that something nefarious was going on. Even after another friend gets sent a box of chocolates containing MAGGOTS, she’s still not convinced there’s anything weird going on.

In addition, there was too much of that typical 1980s-2000s leering of Paige, and an odd, creepy sexual advancement made against her by Los Angeles Police Detective Leon Vaughn (played by Fulvio Cecere). The detective gets decapitated later, which doesn’t fit the revenge plot, but I suppose could be explained by not wanting to get caught.

Anyhow, Dorothy is dating a con artist, Campbell Morris (played by Daniel Cosgrove) and is so clearly over-compensating in that relationship by letting him move in and buying him expensive gifts. It’s kinda sad. When he’s missing (because he was murdered) and doesn’t come to the party, Dorothy accuses the other friends of being jealous of her and still thinking of her as the “fat girl.”

Even before that point, though, I started suspecting Dorothy as the killer more than Jeremy because a.) Jeremy seemed too obvious, so he must be a red herring; and b.) as far as I could tell, up to that point, the other girls had been harassed and/or killed already except for Dorothy; ergo.

Turns out, Dorothy was the killer! Because she was tired of being seen as the “fat girl.” I actually dig that role reversal and upending of the expectations. I still feel bad for Jeremy though! (Not for the girls telling him no, although they were mean about it, but for the bullies shaming him.)

There are two things that don’t make sense that I noticed, though. First, why didn’t Dorothy kill her step-mom and/or dad? She obviously had a lot of resentment toward her step-mom for being probably younger than she is and yet, let her live. Maybe because that would have given the twist away and made it too obvious it was her. Secondly, much like Scream, at the last minute, they try to throw another potential killer at us, Kate’s (played by Marley Shelton, who was Wendy Peffercorn in The Sandlot!) boyfriend (the Boreanaz character).

Turns out, the boyfriend was concealing information because he’s actually Jeremy Melton, which probably explains why he’s an alcoholic.

But anyhow, to try to make it seem like he’s the killer, he suddenly starts … acting like a killer toward Kate! It didn’t make any sense. Then he comes back to “normal” to rescue Kate against Dorothy.

Shoot, forget everything I just said. I write these reviews in real time, as my thoughts come to me. I went back and was reading the plot on Wikipedia and I’m wrong!

Melton is the killer and he framed Dorothy! Which explains why the step-mother wasn’t killer and why Melton was acting like the killer against Kate. Because at the end before the credits, Melton’s (who we think is Adam) nose begins bleeding, as it did when he was a kid. When kills occurred throughout the movie, we’d see a trickle of blood come of the Cupid mask’s nose hole.

I got that the boyfriend turned out to be Melton, but I didn’t make the connection that they were telling us he’s the actual killer. Whoops.

Dang …

So, Melton did kill all of them for revenge and then framed Dorothy for it. Well, I’ll be! Well-done, filmmakers, well-done. Mea culpa.

Now that I don’t even have to excuse two plot holes because I was happily wrong, I thought this was a fun slasher. I wouldn’t put it up there with the best slashers, but it felt like one of those B-level movies I would have gotten on a whim at Blockbuster and enjoyed on a Friday night back in the day.

So, if you also enjoy fun, harmless B-level horror movies, give this a whirl.

So, why didn’t he killer her?

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