Sometimes a movie fails to live up to its potential. When a high-minded drama fails to resonate or an actioner fails to thrill, I feel burned. But when a slasher fails to exploit a forward-thinking social commentary, I’m more lenient. So it is with Valentine, the story of five grade-school friends, now young women, who find themselves stalked by an unknown assailant as Valentine’s Day approaches.
The plot includes a werewolf-style angle. The women suspect a former classmate, a boy they ridiculed and humiliated, but he’s long since disappeared. Now, with plastic surgery, he could be anyone.
Ludicrous? Yes, but the film entertains, provided you don’t think too hard. The female leads shine and the preponderance of creepy guys and the film’s willingness to call out male privilege places it ahead of its time in terms of social awareness. A ripe theme Valentine acknowledges, then drops.
That said, I enjoyed the film’s desire to play as a straight slasher, devoid of meta-humor and featuring gory, creative deaths. It falls short—I suspect the post-Columbine timing played a part—but it proffers a great bow-and-arrow sequence and a memorable hot tub scene.
The result isn’t a miss, but a foul tip. Granted, the dated, industrial rock soundtrack doesn’t match the action or personalities, and the ending is best not given too much thought, but slasher fans could do worse.