Jamie Blanks’ “Valentine” is one of the many latter day slasher films that would completely steal from the premise of “Slaughter High” and retrofit it to a new generation, as well as blatantly ape the gimmick of “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” “Valentine” is one of the more ambitious slashers that not only steals from “Slaughter High” but also jumps on the valentine holiday as its primary gimmick for the stalking and slashing. “My Bloody Valentine” always has my loyalty, while “Valentine” is just a sub-par absolutely vanilla slasher thriller with the classic whodunit plot motivation that also became a common element of latter day slashers post-“Scream.”
In 1988 San Francisco during a Valentine’s day dance, geeky student Jeremy Milton is attempting to ask out one of the five girlfriends in a clique at the dance. When one of the friends Dorothy goes off with Jeremy to make out with him, they’re discovered and Jeremy is accused by Dorothy of sexually assaulting her. Beaten, and stripped by the bullies, the humiliated Jeremy is expelled from school and transferred to a reform school. Years later in 2001, as the five girls have managed to move on, one of the friends is murdered by a masked assailant in a cupid’s mask. As the friends re-unite, they begin receiving harassing and disturbing valentine’s, and deduce that Jeremy has come back to wreak revenge on them for their horrific prank. Now as the body count rises, young Kate tries to figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim.
“Valentine” doesn’t have a style all on its own, which makes it one of the more disposable relics of the big slasher boom of the late nineties. It’s a bit too little too late, especially as Blanks can never really derive enough tension or suspense to make “Valentine” a strong enough slasher movie to recommend. Granted, the killer’s mask is spooky, but a lot of “Valentine” works more like a soapy melodrama about a bunch of rich people, and young girls in mansions and condos complaining about how they were unpopular in school. The writers never even bank on that with a slick sense of self-awareness as it’s all played fairly straight faced, save for a sub-plot with character Dorothy, her dad, his Asian trophy bride, and her gruesome death. All the while the stunt casting is fairly obvious and never adds to the film.
David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton, the once in demand bombshell Denise Richards, Jessica Capshaw, and of course, the then up and comer Katherine Heigl, are all here and don’t contribute too much, sadly. Most of “Valentine” is fairly routine with a ton of fake outs, red herrings, and dodgy off screen kills. A ton of violence is blatantly side stepped or craftily edited, considering the climate of pop culture in 2001, as Hollywood was still very iffy about violence in film post-Columbine. “Valentine,” beyond the gorgeous cast, and neat mask of the kliller, doesn’t have anything really going for it, and I was never completely intrigued with the big whodunit revenge mystery that ensues. I have a weakness for pretty much all slasher films, but “Valentine” feels like it’s thin in material, and just borrows from better films once the second half rears its head. I can’t recommend “Valentine” unless you’re a true hardcore slasher flick fanatic like yours truly.
The new release from Scream Factory comes with a Blu-Ray stuffed with extras and exhaustive special features. If you loved “Valentine,” you’ll love what Scream Factory has for you. There are two audio commentaries, one with director Jamie Blanks and filmmaker Don Coscarelli, moderated by author Peter Bracke; and one with only director Jamie Blanks. “Thrill of the Drill” is a ten minute interview with actress Denise Richards, who discusses the film, and her enthusiasm about being in a horror movie along with her other genre credits. She also explains the fun she had filming her death scene. “The Final Girl” is a fourteen minute interview with Marley Shelton who discusses how she felt the film was ahead of its time involving female empowerment, her love for horror movies, and her great chemistry with director Blanks.
“Shot Through the Heart” is a twenty three minute interview with co-star Jessica Cauffiel who raves about Jamie Blanks, how he allowed the cast to form their characters, her bonding with the other females in the cast, and how she loved filming her death scene. “Writing Valentine” is an exhaustive hour long interview with co-writers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts, both of whom discusses in detail about writing the script, their strong friendship and working together, and their reactions watching the movie today. “Editing Valentine” is a twenty eight minute interview with editor Steve Mirkovich, who discusses his history editing for John Carpenter on “Big Trouble In Little China,” “Prince of Darkness,” “They Live” as well as his craft, his style, as well as educating the audience on crafting “Valentine” for Jamie Blanks. “Scoring Valentine” is a twelve minute interview with composer Don Davis who discusses his electronic score.
There’s the two hour long “Behind-The-Scenes” a series of never before scene behind the scenes footage from director Jamie Blanks’ personal archive. There are shots on set, all in chronological order, exploring the process, the effects, and the various personalities on the crew. There’s a vintage featurette clocking in at eight minutes, a routine EPK with interviews with the producer, and the mostly female cast. There’s a seventeen minute press kit with extended interview with BTS footage and some interviews. There’s an eight minute deleted scenes reel, and the Club Reel Music Video “Opticon” by Orgy. Finally there’s the original teaser trailer, the original theatrical trailer, various TV Spots, and a Still Gallery. There’s also an Easter Egg (Press right with the cursor at the “Theatrical Trailer” option) at the end of the film with Jack Sholder who discusses whether the film ripped him off or paid homage. The interview comes from a possible future release of “Alone in the Dark.”