ⓘ Valentine (film)

Valentine (film)

ⓘ Valentine (film)

Valentine is a 2001 American slasher film directed by Jamie Blanks and starring Denise Richards, David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton, Jessica Capshaw, and Katherine Heigl. Loosely based on the novel of the same name by Tom Savage, the film follows a group of women in San Francisco who are stalked by a killer wearing a Cupid mask.

Released theatrically in February 2001, the film was critically panned, with critics deeming it too similar to 1980s slasher films. The film earned $36.7 million on a $10 million budget.


1. Plot

At a junior high school St. Valentines Day dance in 1988 San Francisco, Jeremy Melton, an outcast student, asks four popular girls to dance. The first three girls, Shelley, Lily, and Paige reject him spitefully, while the fourth girl, Kate, politely responds "maybe later". Their overweight friend Dorothy accepts Jeremys invitation and they proceed to secretly make out underneath the bleachers. When the school bully Joe Tulga and his friends discover them, Dorothy claims that Jeremy sexually assaulted her. Joe and his friends publicly strip and severely beat Jeremy, and his nose starts bleeding under the distress. It is later revealed Jeremy was expelled and eventually transferred to a reform school.

Thirteen years later, in 2001, Shelley, now a medical student at UCLA, is at the morgue one evening studying for her medical exam. After receiving a vulgar Valentines card in her locker, she is attacked by a man in a trench coat and Cupid mask. She is cornered in a cooler used to store cadavers, where she attempts to hide in a body bag, but the killer finds her before slitting her throat. The killers nose bleeds as she dies.

At Shelleys funeral, Kate, Lily, Paige, and Dorothy are questioned. They admit to not having seen her in some time after she moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Kate, Paige, and Dorothy subsequently receive obscene cards, each signed "JM." Lily also receives a card with a box of chocolates which she finds are filled with maggots. Meanwhile, Dorothys boyfriend, Campbell, loses his apartment and temporarily moves in with her at her fathers large mansion.

As the girls attend the exhibit of Lilys artist boyfriend Max, they meet Campbells bitter ex-girlfriend Ruthie, who accuses him of being a con artist. Lily becomes lost at the exhibit and the killer appears, who proceeds to shoot her repeatedly with arrows until she falls several floors into a dumpster. When they have not heard from Lily, the others assume she is in Los Angeles on a work trip. Upon contacting the police, they agree that the culprit could be Jeremy Melton. Dorothy admits to her friends that she lied and that Jeremy never attacked her and she ruined his life by getting him beat up and sent to reform school. Meanwhile, Kates neighbor Gary, breaks into her apartment to steal her underwear. The killer catches Gary in the act and hits him with a hot iron. The killer then brutally beats him to death with the object.

As Valentines Day approaches, Dorothy is planning a party at her familys estate. On the morning of the party, the killer murders Campbell with an ax in the basement. The others assume he has simply left Dorothy. Angering her, Dorothy believes that they are jealous and still look at her as the "fat girl" of the group. After coming to the party to confront Dorothy with the truth about Campbell, Ruthie is thrown through a shower window by the killer who then impales her neck on the glass. At the party, Paige is attacked and trapped in a hot tub by the killer. The killer taunts her with an electric drill before throwing it into the water, electrocuting her.

The party disintegrates when the power cuts out, and Dorothy and Kate argue over who the killer is. Kate claims that Campbell could be a suspect because they do not know anything about him or where he is, while Dorothy counters by accusing Adam, Kates recovering alcoholic on-off boyfriend, who is now a journalist. After being told by Lilys boyfriend that she did not arrive in Los Angeles as planned, Kate realizes she is also probably dead and calls the detective assigned to the case. After dialing the number, she follows the sound of a ringtone outside the house and discovers the detectives severed head in the pond.

Kate becomes convinced that Adam is actually Jeremy, disguised by reconstructive surgery, and goes back into the house, only to find Adam waiting for her. To her surprise, he asks her to dance. Kate becomes frightened, knees him in the groin and flees. She runs through the house, discovering the corpses of Paige and Ruthie. She locates a gun, but the Cupid masked killer jumps out from the darkness and sends them both tumbling down a staircase. The killer arises and is shot to death by Adam. As a shocked and confused Kate apologizes profusely, Adam pulls off the mask to reveal Dorothy. Adam forgives Kate, explaining that childhood trauma can lead to lifelong anger and some people are eventually forced to act on that anger, referring to Dorothy. As Kate and Adam wait for the police to arrive, they hug and Adam says he has always loved her. Moments later, when Kate closes her eyes, his nose begins to bleed, revealing that he is in fact Jeremy Melton and the true killer, framing the dead Dorothy for his crimes.


2.1. Production Conception

While Warner Bros. had acquired the rights to the Tom Savage novel in May 1998, the project was later transferred to Artisan Entertainment with producer Dylan Sellers and writers Wayne & Donna Powers, with Wayne Powers attached to direct.

The original script had a different tone from the book and was set on a college campus. The project went into turnaround to Warner Bros., was rewritten by Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts. Richard Kelly was originally offered the chance to direct, but turned the offer down. Hedy Burress auditioned for the role of Dorothy Wheeler, and Tara Reid was considered for the role, but it was given to Jessica Capshaw instead. However, Blanks wanted Burress to star in the film and cast her as Ruthie Walker. Jessica Cauffiel originally auditioned for Denise Richardss role of Paige. In the original cast, Jennifer Love Hewitt was to play Paige Prescott.


2.2. Production Filming

Valentine was shot on location in Vancouver, British Columbia, with principal photography commencing July 10, 2000, and concluding September 8. Boreanaz shot all his scenes in less than two weeks. Katherine Heigl only had three days to shoot her scenes as she was already committed to the television series Roswell.

Blanks later said in an interview, "Forgive me for. A lot of people give me grief for that, but we did our best."


3. Release

In promotion of the film, Warner Bros.s official website featured digital e-card valentines that visitors could send via email, and stars David Boreanaz and Katherine Heigl - both well known at the time for their roles in the series Angel and Roswell, respectively - appeared at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Festival.

Valentine had its Hollywood premiere at Hollywood Post No. 43, American Legion, on February 1, 2001. It earned $20.384.136 in the United States and Canada and a total gross of $36.684.136, allowing the film to surpass its $10 million budget.


3.1. Release Critical reception

Valentine received largely negative reviews from critics. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film a middling review likening to a 1980s-style slasher film, but praised the performances, writing: Valentine isnt scary, but it is unsettling; not ultimately satisfying, but arresting in the moment. Part of the credit has to go to the ensemble. The actresses are vivid, and the characters they play are clearly delineated." Ben Falk of BBC gave the film two out of five stars, writing: "Lets face it - we all know whats going to happen and director Blanks Urban Legend offers up few surprises. Theres the host of red herrings of which none really bite, creative deaths, girls running around screaming and then being incredibly thick, but a distinct lack of gratuitous nudity, which would have at least brightened up the landscape."

Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, calling the film a "smart, stylish horror picture that offers a fresh twist on the ever-reliable revenge theme and affords a raft of talented young actors solid roles that show them to advantage." Dennis Harvey of Variety gave the film a mixed review, noting: "Looking good but lacking much in the way of personality or gray matter - rather like its characters - Valentine is a straightforward slasher pic that’s acceptably scary until a weak finale." Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide awarded the film one out of five stars, calling the film "A throwback to the formulaic, holiday-themed stalk-and-slash pictures of the early 80s - but why it took four writers to adapt Tom Savages generic genre novel is thoroughly baffling."

At Rotten Tomatoes, an internet review aggregator, the film received an approval rating of 11% based on 76 reviews, with the general consensus being that Valentine is basically a formulaic throwback to conventional pre- Scream slasher flicks. Critics say it doesnt offer enough suspense or scares to justify its addition to the genre."

In a 2015 retrospective review, the online horror publication Icons of Fright published a retrospective review of the film, defending the spirit of the film and its thematic handling of the holidays mythological aspects.


4. Soundtrack

The musical score for Valentine was composed by Don Davis. The soundtrack also includes the songs "Pushing Me Away" by Linkin Park, "God of the Mind" by Disturbed, "Love Dump Mephisto Odysseys Voodoo Mix" by Static-X, "Superbeast Porno Holocaust Mix" by Rob Zombie, "Valentines Day" by Marilyn Manson, and "Opticon" by Orgy. This soundtrack compilation was lampooned in a sketch by Saturday Night Live, which humorously pointed out that many of the bands featured on it were not only unknown to a mass audience but have oddly nonsensical names.

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