Valentine was kind of a bust when it was first released in February of 2001, earning just $20 million. It's not hard to see why. The trend of slasher flicks starring overly-attractive young actors – which started with Scream in 1996 and officially became a hot trend with I Know What You Did Last Summer a year later – was long played out by this point. The fact that Valentine tried to be a little more sophisticated got lost in the shuffle. Scream Factory's new Collector's Edition Blu-ray is jam-packed with bonus material. The feature itself is still a mixed bag. Toss in all the supplementary stuff, though, and you've got something to get excited about.
The story begins with a prologue set in 1988. An awkward teen boy named Jeremy Melton asks several girls to dance with him at a school Valentine's Day celebration. Three mock him, one politely demurs, and the fifth makes out with him under the bleachers, only to falsely accuse him of attacking her once some jocks find them. Jeremy is then humiliated in front of all his classmates.
Thirteen years later, he returns, wearing a cherub mask, to exact his revenge. His first victim is med student Shelley (Katherine Heigl). Then he goes after the rest: Paige (Denise Richards), Kate (Marley Shelton), Lily (Jessica Cauffiel), and Dorothy (Jessica Capshaw). There are also various male boyfriends/love interests, including David Boreanaz as Kate's alcoholic suitor, who often serve as red herrings.
Valentine has a couple of notable strong suits, particularly the fact that its main characters are strong, smart women. Yes, most of them end up getting killed by Jeremy. They're still quick-witted, clever, and far from your garden variety damsels in distress. The film additionally benefits from some well-staged horror moments. The death-by-arrow murder of one character has a darkly funny twist to it. Another person comes to a suitably grisly end in a hot tub.
Where the film falters is on the deeper levels. Valentine is ostensibly about a guy seeking vengeance against the mean girls who hurt his feelings. To drive that idea home, the screenplay would have needed to give the women more of a contemplative quality – to think about what they did, perhaps feel a measure of remorse, and register that their words and actions had a much deeper impact than they realized. We never really get that. And since Jeremy is behind a mask the whole time, we get no examination of his emotional state, other than a desire to murder.
Strong performances, sleek visuals, and solid “kills” certainly keep Valentine watchable, even if it never fulfills the potential inherent in its premise.
Scream Factory has put together an impressive amount of goodies for the Blu-ray release, including an audio commentary from director Jamie Blanks, filmmaker Don Coscarelli, and author Peter Bracke. Also on the disc:
Thrill of the Drill - An interview with star Denise Richards. She talks about hanging out with her co-stars and liking the director. Most specifically, the actress discusses her character's memorable death scene, in which she's trapped in a hot tub and the killer repeatedly bores a power drill through the glass cover. Richards is clearly proud of this moment.
The Final Girl - Marley Shelton shares her memories of production. She sees a feminist twist in Valentine, pointing out that the male characters are objectified, while the female characters are strong and intelligent.
Shot Through the Heart - Jessica Cauffiel is the focus of a 23-minute interview in which she enthusiastically praises her co-stars and director. Then she reminisces in depth about Lily's death scene, which is often cited by horror buffs as one of the great modern cinematic kills. Cauffiel is a bubbly presence, to say the least, so hearing her talk about her experience making Valentine is fun.
Writing Valentine - Writers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts spend a full hour on how they were hired, how some of the key scenes were conceived, and which parts of their screenplay (including the ending) were changed after someone else was brought in for a re-write. There's a lot of good information here about how the story was crafted.
Editing Valentine - Editor Steve Mirkovich speaks about working with John Carpenter for many years, then coming on board this film. He has some good anecdotes about cutting Valentine.
Scoring Valentine - Composer Don Davis discusses writing the score and how he attempted to avoid tipping off the audience as to who the killer was.
Behind the Scenes - Almost two full hours of set footage. This is great in showing how horror sequences are staged and what the atmosphere is like on-set.
A vintage making-of feature, a video press kit, eight minutes of deleted scenes, a music video for Orgy's “Opticon,” and various promotional materials (trailers, TV spots, stills) are here, as well.
The abundance of high-quality material on Scream Factory's Valentine Blu-ray makes it worth purchasing for anyone with even a remote interest in the movie.
Valentine is rated R for strong horror violence, some sexuality and language. The running time is 1 hour and 36 minutes.