I know what you’re thinking, because I sure thought it when I saw Valentine in my TV listings: Christ, didn’t this just come out in theaters?
Yes. Yes, it did. And when your crappy movie makes reams and reams of Jack Squat in the theaters, that’s when you push it into video circulation as fast as possible. You also try your darndest to sell your crappy movie to the cable networks and hope against hope that they show your little darling of a picture in Prime Time, where a much more receptive audience will finally, finally understand and appreciate your genius. Those theater-going plebes wouldn’t know a good movie if it brained them with a Dolby anyway.
I found Valentine playing at 9:45 p.m., Tuesday night, on one of the HBO Clone channels. It played right after The Craft. You guys remember The Craft? Much, much, much better movie than this POS, despite Fairuza Balk’s Mick Jagger lips…which, I will admit, I’m more than a little fond of. They’re so damned…delicious. She’s so damned delicious. Though it’s probably just my thing for goth chicks. And witches. When I see a movie with goth chick witches, man alive, am I ever in heaven.
But enough about the marginally good teen movie, we’re here to talk about the lame and boring teen movie. Even though this isn’t really a teen movie so much as a…I don’t know…”twenty-something movie” feels like a good term. All the pieces of flesh that the camera follows around (entities that, in a better movie, would be called “characters”) seem to be in their mid-to-late twenties, but what do I know? Besides, David Boreanaz always looks twenty-five going-on two hundred and nine, whether he’s fighting demons or fighting Craig Killborn. (Oh, Gods, how I’d like to fight Craig Killborn. That’ll show you what you get for cutting away from Tenacious D, you egotistical blond bastard!)
Anywho, now it comes to it…
We open with Shelly.
Wait. No. That’s not true. We begin with a prologue set in junior high. The Apotheosis of All Nerds asks five moderately-cute girls to dance and gets snubbed four times. Cute-Girl number five decides to split the difference with him and, instead of dancing, the two start making out behind the bleachers. An unruly mob of boys discovers the two, Cute-Girl Number Four cries the junior-high equivalent of “rape,” and the Apotheosis of Nerds gets stripped to his skivvies and laughed out of the dance.
Junior high school is Hell on Earth, by the way. Just thought you should know.
Fast-forward a bit. Time to meet Shelly (Katherine Heigl). Shelly is a med-student and later (much later) we’ll learn that Shelly is supposed to be the “smart one.” So she’s cramming for finals by performing an autopsy in the middle of the night, alone, in a big, creepy morgue while wearing a tank-top and jeans. Smart. While taking a break from her corpse (whom she names “Chad”), Shelly finds a creepy Valentine in her morgue locker. (What? You didn’t know morgues had lockers? Jeeze, everybody knows that.) Hmmm…a Slasher movie about a crazed killer in a strange mask who taunts his victims with creepy valentines. How…um…original.
To give the Devil His due, at least this movie’s Cherub-faced psychopath is a better dresser than what’s-his-name from that other Valentine’s Day slasher flick. Every girl crazy ’bout a sharp dressed maniac.
So, bedecked in buttoned down coat, slacks, and traction control boots, Cherub Man leads Shelly on a not-so-merry chase and then kills her. These early scenes are supposed to be fraught with tension and suspense and, as usual, have the bare minimum of either. This movie is the spawn of Urban Legend director Jamie Blanks and, while Mr. Blanks desperately wants to be the heir to Wes Craven’s throne, let me say something: it ain’t gonna happen. After Scream‘s kinetics we, the audience, need more than…well… this. The opening stalk scene will set a trend for all the scenes to follow and illustrate just what makes the movie Valentine such a waste of celluloid.
But first, meet your cannon fodder. Those four friends from junior high have all grown up into fully fledged Hottie McHotties. We’ll learn nothing about these people during the course of this movie, but who cares, right? They’ve got butts and boobs and their faces are made up entirely of straight lines. There’s Kate (Marley Shelton) the blond one with straight hair, who’s the closest thing to a main character we’re going to get; there’s Page (Denise Richards), the brunet with the caterpillar eyebrows; there’s Lilly (Jessica Cauffiel), who’s also blond, except she’s got curly hair and she’s perky, yippee; oh, and don’t forget Dorothy (Jessica Capshaw). She’s got blond, straight hair too, but her face has curves. She used to be the fat one and doesn’t know the meaning of “get over it.”
So Our Foursome is catching up at Shelly’s funeral when who should appear but David Boreanaz! Angel! My main man. He’ll solve this misery, licitly split and–What are you doing, Dave?
Oh, wait. Sorry. Dave is playing Kate’s boytoy, Adam. Adam is a recovering alcoholic. That’s it. He’ll drop into the plot occasionally to remind everyone that, yes, this movie stars David Boreanaz. TV’s Angel. Only good actor in the whole damn movie. Throws the other non-talents on screen into glaring relief. Oh, God, isn’t this movie over yet?
Nope. At ninety-six minutes, with the average stalk scene lasting six minutes, that still leaves sixty-six minutes to get to know our characters. Sixty-six minutes to realize that these four women are the most tedious, boring, one-dimensional little prisses this side of the cast of Friends. And so they remain, throughout the whole show. I’d like to think the methodical murder of my closest friends would leave me slightly perturbed. For these women, Shelly’s death doesn’t even rate a hissy fit. Then it’s back to their six thousand square-foot, LA apartments with their designer furniture and their gourmet coffees until, finally, Valentine’s Day arrives.
We all know parties in Slasher movies are nothing more than blatant excuses to draw the entire cast to one central location. So do the movie makers. Do they exploit this knowledge, or somehow play off it in a humorous or interesting fashion?
No. No, they don’t. Everything is as formulaic and contrived as it could possibly be. It’s almost as if Blanks and the four writers (one of each whinny main character) who pound out this masterpiece were trying to be unoriginal. It’s almost as if Blanks and his four were trying to devolve the Slasher movie and return it to it’s glorious golden years. The 80s, in other words.
Problem being: the 80s sucked. Aside from one or two happy accidents, the Slasher movies of that decade were nothing more than quick ways to make quick cash. They slavishly adhered to the same paint-by-numbers formula and no one seems to remember that this is a bad thing.
So, we’re left with these people. These chattering Barbie doll people. Our Heroines, who, when they aren’t getting killed by the Cherub Man, spend their time watching Dating Service Videos on their HDTVs and taking long, hot showers in their porcelain tubs. They live the lives every fourteen year-old Seventeen magazine subscriber dreams of, so it’s no surprise they all seem to brush off their old friend’s death with such callous abandon. They really could be the cast of Friends…and I fucking hate Friends.
There. I’m glad I got that off my chest. I feel much better now.
With Valentine you have David Boreanaz and four women whom can not be described without using naughty language. If you just need to spent ninety-six minutes watching four prattling Waif models then you can go right ahead and watch this movie. As for me, I’m off.
I was going to leave you with some clever bit of wit and/or wisdom, but to heck with it.