Director: Jamie Blanks / Writers: Tom Savage (novel), Donna Powers, Wayne Powers, Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts / Cast: David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton, Denise Richards, Jessica Capshaw, Jessica Cauffiel, Katherine Heigl, Fulvio Cecere, Daniel Cosgrove, Hedy Burress.
Body Count: 9
Dire-logue: “Jeremy Melton couldn’t manage a water fountain without screwing up, I don’t think he’s capable of an intricate revenge plot.”
Urban Legend is my favourite entry in the 90’s slasher movie revival: it had everything I wanted from high pitched screams to a reveal right out of a Scooby Doo episode. Naturally, when I heard its director Jamie Blanks was doing another slasher flick I was, y’know, totally stoked! Valentine is – rather loosely – based on Tom Savage’s novel and harks back to that age old slasher staple of adolescent school trauma turns geek into weapon-toting psycho…
The geek in this case is Jeremy Melton, a scrawny, bespectacled, buck-toothed teen who’s only sin is to ask five girls to dance at their Junior High Valentine’s prom thingy. Three cruelly decline, one says “maybe later”, and the fifth, outcast fat girl Dorothy, accepts and is later found sucking face with Jeremy by a group of boys who assume he attacked her, which she agrees with, and then pour punch over him, strip him down to his pants and kick the crap out of poor Jeremy in the middle of the dancefloor!
Jumping ahead thirteen years, Heigl’s med student Shelley supplies ‘the Barrymore role’ of long-sequence-of-death first victim and her friends gather for her funeral. Kate (Shelton) is to-ing and fro-ing back to her jar-tapping boyfriend Adam (Boreanaz); man-magnet siren Paige (Richards) cruises through life with a trail of men after her; fun girl Lily (Cauffiel) is dating a sleazy artist and Dorothy has lost all the weight but is being sucked in by conman Campbell…
After receiving some grisly gifts and cards – including maggot infested chocolates – the girls wonder about who might be behind things and eventually put two and two together (the cards are signed JM after all!) and leave things in the hands of incapable detective Cecere, who is more interested in bedding Paige. Of course, Cherub-Jeremy crops up for more intermittent murders, taking out Lily early on and Kate’s bizarre neighbour, who meets the nasty end of a steaming hot iron. Could Jeremy have possibly grown up into Angel David Boreanaz!?
Things come to a head at Dorothy’s Valentine’s party (in a massive house with lots of deserted areas, natch) when the remaining girls and a line-up of suspects are gathered. More murders occur, Denise Richards pleases a generation of teenage boys by strutting about in a bikini, a powercut empties all and sundry out, leaving Kate to step into the heroine’s shoes and face off with Cupid. It’s here where Valentine loses its way to some degree, thus opening itself up to all the critical slaggery that was piled upon it. What is in fact quite a clever twist is botched by the cutting of a scene that doesn’t appear on the DVD either and so leaves a question mark over the actual identity of the killer. We discover Jeremy is in fact there, but is he… who’s… how… what!?
Ergo, look at the IMDb message boards for all the twelve-year-olds rowing over who the killer is. Those of us who’ve seen more than five slasher films should be able to figure it out with ease but Blanks misses the shot here. Nevertheless, the film works in spite of itself and is a whole lot of fun. I’m only bothered by the killer’s bizarre motives: four of the girls merely decline his offer of a dance whereas he has the shit kicked out of him by several boys who, strangely, he doesn’t factor in to his revenge plot at all… Additionally, there are male characters who, in any other film, would be killed off with extreme prejudice who make it through in one piece – the ‘wax’ scene practically leaves the doors wide open with cookies and milk to beg the killer’s appearance! Shelton is also a weak link, playing it far too angelic as the final girl to muster up much support, she’s merely the one who doesn’t die rather than struggles against the odds. Richards and Cauffiel are the most fun to watch and Cecere makes a likeable idiot.
Blurbs-of-interest: Cauffiel played Sandra in Urban Legends: Final Cut; Heigl had the lead in Bride of Chucky; Burress was in Cabin by the Lake.