Uh, another teen horror film? After the parodies of "Scary Movie" and its sequel had seemingly put an end to the kind of silliness that these films had turned into, there were a few more that still leaked out - cinematic "runoff", in a way. Although "Valentine" certainly wasn't that successful when it came to theaters early this year, in a way it actually was. These cheaply produced horror flicks, although certainly in no way memorable, still eek out a profit. This film in particular made 20 million dollars and only cost 10.
"Valentine" takes one slightly different turn, but overally generally remains the same as the other pictures in the genre. Pretty WB-looking stars get stalked; a prologue shows the tale of a young man named Jeremy Milton who gets made fun of and dumped on (literally - the kids dump the entire bowl of punch on his head). The bullying and anger he gets from his fellow classmates sets him over the edge. Years later, Kate (Marley Shelton), Paige (Denise Richards), Dorothy (Jessica Capshaw), and Lily (Jessica Cauffiel) come to the funeral of friend Shelly (Katherine Heigl), who was taken out by a guy wearing a cupid mask. Soon after, the girls get valentines with the initals "JM" on them. Is it the guy who they made fun of on Valentine's day all othose years ago? Is it the cop that's investigating? Is it a ghost? Is it Denise Richards' acting coach? Wait, that last one never existed.
Although one doesn't usually expect directors to be typecast, Jamie Blanks has tried to make a name for himself directing teen horror, a genre that doesn't really make for directing fame with only a couple of exceptions. "Legend" didn't generate much suspense and neither does "Valentine". Pacing is often slack - few moments generate tension, but they're in-between long stretches of conversation - and let me say that the coversation involved in this genre isn't ever too interesting, especially here, after four writers came up with - not much. The acting is decent, but not above what you would expect from the genre. Denise Richards again proves that an Oscar is not in her future as she plays her "Wild Things" role again, but she's supported decently by Marley Shelton ("Sugar and Spice"), Jessica Capshaw (Steven Spielberg's daughter) and Cauffiel. David Boreanaz is a wrong choice, appearing rather bored throughout his scenes in the film.
Visually fairly slick, cinematographer Rick Bota makes the film look rather like Andrej Bartowiak's work in "Gossip", with heavy colors and fine compositions. "Gossip" was a bit more striking visually, but it's still respectable work and one of the very few positive features of the film.
"Valentine" may have been somewhat profitable, but it's also quite predictable and I found little about it to be entertaining or basically enjoyable. Hopefully this will be the last effort in this genre for a while because it's really run its course.
VIDEO: Warner Brothers has been getting better and better (and better) with their presentations in regards to image quality during the past year. Although they've always been highly regarded as setting the standards early on, their recent efforts in the past six months or so have been looking more and more film-like. And, with the quality level of theatrical presentations that I've seen dropping in recent years, watching a DVD on the small screen is becoming an increasingly more enjoyable experience (uh, well, that still depends on the film, doesn't it?). Warner Brothers presents the picture in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen edition that looks superb - sharpness and detail are impressive, and there's a remarkable amount of visual information even in the darkest scenes and, well, the movie's pretty dark.
There were a couple of tiny traces of edge enhancement and some slight grain, but that was about the extent of the flaws apparent in the presentation. I didn't see any print flaws and there were no instances of pixelation. Colors looked terrific - bold, rich and well-saturated. Flesh tones looked accurate and natural as well, and black level was strong. A very nice transfer.
SOUND: "Valentine" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. I've found that, with some recent horror pictures, creative audio use can provide some thrills that the movie otherwise lacks. This is most noticable in Jan De Bont's "The Haunting", which is generally the king of surround-use as replacement for genuine thrills. "Valentine" doesn't reach that point, but there are some moments of agressive surround use that is exceptionally enveloping at a few points throughout with either the usual shock sound effects or the blaring rock/pop soundtrack. Audio quality seemed fine as none of the effects or music overshadowed the dialogue (although there were times when I wished it would) and everything sounded clean and crisp.
MENUS:: Non-animated main menus, but there are creepy sound effects behind the menus.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Jamie Blanks that is actually quite good. Blanks provided an entertaining commentary for "Urban Legend" as well, and generally seems to have an idea of what kind of material he's dealing with. Blanks talks throughout nearly the entire track, discussing the history of the project (it was originally set up at Artisan w/Tara Reid, for example) and speaks about working with the actors as well as some of the technical and production obstacles that came up throughout the making of the movie. It's an energetic, interesting track that is worth a listen for fans of the picture.
Also: A decent eight minute promotional featurette that does give away a little bit too much, a reel of footage presented to "Opticon" by Orgy; cast/crew bios and the theatrical teaser.
Final Thoughts: This disc fits into a particular genre of DVDs that I've reviewed. It's the one where, if you liked it, great - the DVD is a nice presentation and it's priced right. Fans of the film may want to pick it up. If you haven't seen it though, I wouldn't recommend it.
The Film * 1/2
Video 92/A = (368/400 possible points)
Audio: 89/B+ = (356/400 possible points)
Extras: 70/C- = (210/300 possible points)
Menus: 70/C- = (140/200 possible points)
Value: 82/B = (246/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: * 1/2
DVD GRADE: B