‘Valentine’ review

ndsu spectrum: movie Review

‘Valentine’ delivers holiday-themed horror

By JOHN HANSEN
Feb. 9, 2001

 

“Valentine” is not your typical date movie. It is, however, your typical horror movie (but in a good way).

Although director Jamie Blanks (“Urban Legend”)  doesn’t venture much beyond genre expectations, it does an expert job of delivering the basics — cheap scares, a smidgen of mystery, an attractive cast and a couple of shower scenes.

Kate (Marley Shelton), Paige (Denise Richards), Lily (Jessica Cauffiel) and Dorothy (Jessica Capshaw) are four friends being pursued by a killer in a Cupid mask who sends them valentines with phrases like “Roses are red, violets are blue, they’ll need dental records to identify you.”

The killer’s gifts are also creative — maggot-filled chocolates, anyone? — as are his varied killing methods. Horror junkies will love the hot tub sequence.

Because the valentines are signed “J.M.,” the four women and Detective Vaughan (Fulvio Cecere) suspect Jeremy Melton, a nerdy kid who was mercilessly beaten by bullies at a sixth grade dance after none of the girls would dance with him. But Melton’s name doesn’t appear in any databases, and there are plenty of other suspects too, including Kate’s boyfriend Adam Carr (“Angel’s” David Boreanaz), a sports reporter recovering from alcohol addiction.

The characters aren’t too fascinating, but they are somewhat colorful. Boreanaz’s presence certainly helps the movie, although a one-shot film character really can’t compete with a character who’s been shaped over five seasons of television. Big-eyed Shelton is the shining presence among the four women. Cauffiel is good, but she isn’t allowed the creative freedom she had in “Urban Legends: Final Cut.” Denise Richards is, well, Denise Richards — questionable acting skills, sexy voice.

Considering its “Carrie”-like themes, “Valentine” could have been emotionally riveting, but Blanks goes straight for the scares, and frankly, I didn’t mind too much. The opening sequence of a medical student (“Roswell’s” Katherine Heigl) being stalked inside a morgue draws the viewer in right away.

“Valentine” is rooted in reality because pretty much everyone can relate to being that nerdy kid who dreams of one day getting revenge. But it also stretches reality a bit. Could someone really know so little about the people closest to them that everyone becomes a suspect? Maybe, maybe not, but Shelton and “Valentine” pull off this conceit better than Neve Campbell and the last two “Scream” films did.

Title: “Valentine”

Starring: Marley Shelton, David Boreanaz, Denise Richards, Jessica Cauffiel, Jessica Capshaw, Daniel Cosgrove, Johnny Whitworth, Fulvio Cecere

Written by: Tom Savage, Donna Powers, Wayne Powers, Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts

Director: Jamie Blanks

Grade: B+