Impressions: Valentine

Valentine is a slasher movie from 2001 following a group of women being hunted down and killed in the lead-up to Valentine’s day. It has a pretty decent cast list, including David Boreanaz and Denise Richards during her hay day, but is ultimately a pretty paint-by-numbers slasher flick that didn’t really manage to stand out, especially in the post Scream world. I warn you this Impressions will contain a lot of spoilers.

The movie starts with a young boy asking girls to dance and being rejected horribly by all but two of them. One tells him “maybe later” while another agrees to make out with him. When other students find them, they are laughing at the two when the girl claims that the boy jumped her. He’s attacked by the students, and then we flash forward. Katherine Heigl is seen on a date with a complete d-bag, including speaking in 3rd person, Jason. The date ends poorly, and Heigl returns to medical school to continue working on her cadaver. She finds a messed-up Valentine talking about slitting her throat and then returns to her corpse only for it to move. We get a chase scene with a killer in a cherub mask, one of the creepiest parts of the entire movie, that ends with her death. This chase scene, though, sets up a common theme for the entire movie.

It starts to build a little and is even close to scary. The corpse suddenly breathing is pretty effective, and the resulting hunting is okay. However, before we even get a chance to have true suspense or terror, it’s over. The killer finds her relatively quickly, and the death is pretty meh, then it’s done, and we are on to the next part. Everything about it is flat.

This is, and I hate to be so negative, the entire movie. Some slight effort to build to something that could be pretty cool, but then it’s just done too quickly. This is notable with Paige’s (Richards) death, something that should have been the highlight of the movie. The killer traps Richards in a hot tub and starts to drill through it while she desperately tries to avoid being stabbed with the drill but also breath in the predicament she is in. This could have been a pretty drawn-out, bloody, and cool kill. Instead, after a very short struggle, he nicks her arm with the drill, then opens up the tub and throws the drill in, electrocuting her to death. It is such a boring and bland way to end what was set up as a potentially really intense and awesome kill scene.

Anyway, the movie plays out with a detective working with the women to try to find out who would have wanted to kill Shelley (Heigl) and the girls remembering the boy from the dance. They find out they pretty neatly ruined his life after that night, but they aren’t entirely sure if he is the killer or not, as it’s been so long. During this, Adam (Boreanaz) is attempting to get back together with Kate, who is worried about his drinking problems. The women and a few others like Kate’s creepy neighbor are killed off one by one leading up to the climax at a Valentine’s Day party.

Kate is chased by the killer, and eventually, Adam shows up to save the day. Kate reveals her friend Dorothy behind the mask, and the movie ends with Adam holding Kate tightly, explaining “Dorothy’s” motivations and how being lonely would drive people to this. And then his nose begins to bleed, something that would happen with the killer.

The problem with this “shocking” reveal is that it is fairly obvious. There is no effort in the movie to make anybody else a reasonable suspect. Jason, the guy Heigl’s character went on the awful date with, is floated as a possibility. However, the movie shows him as being inept and pathetic with no other hints it could be him other than his initials, and he just happened to be at locations. Dorothy being the blamed killer makes even less sense. While Adam explains loneliness taking over, none of what he said applies to Dorothy. She has her insecurities, but she is hardly the lonely, depressed person who would snap and want revenge like Adam attempts to paint her. Beyond the lack of effort put into making others believable potential killers, Adam is just too obvious.

There is no reason for anybody else to go after the creepy neighbor that harasses Kate. Adam’s hatred and obsession with the girls that ruined his life makes the most sense, especially when they are trying to get in the way of him and Kate throughout the movie. Hell, the damn cheesy love note that Kate gave to Adam is found on one of the bodies. The movie does such a poor job giving the audience reason to see anybody else as the killer and paints such an obvious picture that it’s Adam/Jeremy that the reveal is… and once again, to use this term, flat.

The movie fails to deliver what it is attempting over and over. It is hardly the worst slasher movie I have ever seen, but it’s just not good. It’s also not bad enough to be worthy of loving it as some dumb but fun slasher trash. It is instead painfully average and fairly forgettable.

There are also a number of problems in getting through the journey. The movie can’t decide if Denise Richards’ character is the over-the-top trope of “slutty slasher chick” or a strong woman pushing back on it. She flips back and forth between the two so often that it gives you whiplash. Even flirting in some scenes and then being angry when people flirt back. The acting also has some really bad moments, especially from a cast that can act. Beyond that, the women aren’t all that sympathetic at all, which starts to paint a sort of “they deserve it” picture which bothers me. Especially given our nice final girl and how willingly and easily she falls for Adam’s bs despite everyone trying to warn her away from him the entire movie.

So this is a whole lot of complaining, so I imagine you think you know the bottom line. I would still recommend this movie to the right type of horror fan. It’s not going to have a cult following; it’s neither good enough nor bad enough for it. Still, if you are devoted to slashers, it has its moments. For all the movie is not good, it’s not awful either. It is decent enough that if you like the subgenre and are looking for something holiday-themed, it is worth at least one watch. However, if you aren’t the type of horror fan that seeks out basically any and all horror, I’d skip this one. It’s got some cool ideas but doesn’t manage to deliver on most of them. Some will be at least mildly entertained by it, like me, everybody else will probably be pretty bored throughout. I hate being harsh and negative but…

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