I had planned to give Valentine the Minute by Minute treatment LAST year, but for one reason or another I ended up just giving director Jamie Blanks some props on his entire career, as I feel he is a vastly underrated genre filmmaker. Valentine is actually probably to blame for that muted reputation - his debut Urban Legend seemed to go over pretty well with genre fans, but this film's relative failure (and meddling from Warner Bros, who insisted the film be more of a slasher than the dark thriller he originally intended) seemingly scared him away from Hollywood. It would be more than six years before he made another film (Storm Warning), but it and his next film Nature's Grave went DTV in the US. Hopefully he's not out for the count.
I am a fan of this one, though it's easy to see its flaws. The biggest (spoiler!) is that they try a bit too hard to make the audience believe that there's no way nice guy Adam (David Boreanaz) could be the killer, when in fact he is. The emphasis on character development over stalk scenes also make it a tough sell for the slasher crowd - as you'll see below, a hefty number of the minute marks are just "So and so talking". A lot of talk for a movie about a guy in a cherub mask killing pretty people.
But dammit, I think it's fun. Let's explore why!
00:00 The Warner Bros. logo, recolored red to tie into the movie's theme. I always like when a logo is altered for a specific movie.
01:00 Marley Shelton's credit. How she never became a bigger star is beyond me; she's beautiful and has a very warm screen presence, plus some comic chops. It's interesting that she appeared in Scream 4 though, since this movie was pretty much the last in the post-Scream big-screen slasher revival.
02:00 Jeremy, our future killer, asking Dorothy, our future Jessica Capshaw, to dance.
03:00 A red herring that's really more of a cheat, because Jeremy is the killer and yet someone is seen watching him with the same mask, but whatever.
04:00 Katherine Heigl on a date. At the time, I didn't despise her as much as I do now, so I was a bit bummed that it was her and not Denise Richards in the "Drew Barrymore" slot.
05:00 A shot of "Jason", red herring #2. His name got a big laugh out of the audience, as I recall.
06:00 Heigl working on a corpse, because she's a medical student.
07:00 Heigl investigating.
08:00 Shot of the first creepy valentine.
09:00 Shot of the morgue corpse on the floor, as our killer's presence is now a certainty.
10:00 Heigl investigating again.
11:00 First big shot of our killer. It bums me out that this movie didn't do so well (though it DID turn a profit, I should point out); not only should we be on Valentine 4 or 5 by now, but this costume never got mass marketed. I'd totally dress as the Cherub for Halloween. Or for Valentine's Day; why not?
12:00 The Cherub about to open the body bag containing Heigl.
13:00 Marley Shelton and Denise Richards heading into speed dating. Only way such plain gals can attract a male's attention, I guess.
14:00 Shelton enduring another bad speed-date.
15:00 Shelton gets the call that Heigl is dead. She pretends to be sad.
16:00 Shelton hugging David Boreanaz. For a guy who was on two hit shows (Buffy, Angel) and is now the star of an even bigger hit show, he doesn't do a lot of movies. This was his first, and remains his only big screen leading role (he's been in a few others that went direct to DVD). Maybe not destined for too many leads, but it seems like he could have scored the role as "The other guy" in some Rachel McAdams or, er, Katherine Heigl rom-com by now. Hell, even Marc "Riley" Blucas got that much.
17:00 Boreanaz and Shelton chat. His character is a recovering alcoholic, which is why they're no longer together but trying to repair their relationship. Since it's been 20 years and he just now starts killing all of her friends, I'm guessing that she'd rather he just downed some whiskey every now and then instead of being a murderer.
18:00 Shelton waves as Boreanaz drives off.
19:00 The cop/red herring #4 (one of the speed-daters was #3) makes his first appearance.
20:00 Jessica Capshaw and Richards looking concerned.
21:00 Capshaw shows her boyfriend (red herring #5) around her house.
22:00 Capshaw smiling at her fella.
23:00 Capshaw stunned at her dad, who is recently remarried to a woman that's the same age as her. I think this is their only appearance in the movie, which is fine since neither of them are viable suspects.
24:00 Shelton in a towel. Might as well screenshot it since it's been a while.
25:00 Shelton looking at the toilet.
26:00 Shelton talking to red herring #6, her neighbor.
27:00 Jessica Cauffiel at her door. Another one who deserved a better career. Interestingly enough, she was also in Urban Legend 2, which Blanks had nothing to do with, yet her character in both films is pretty similar: the bubbly "fun" one who is dead by the end of the first act.
28:00 Cauffiel opens her candy box.
29:00 Richards laughing at Cauffiel's mockery of a kid who wasn't as attractive as they are. Our heroines! Good a place as any to point out that there's no way in hell that kid we saw in the prologue could grow up to be David Boreanaz, made even more noticeable by the fact that they did a great job finding young versions of our leading ladies.
30:00 Richards and Shelton flirting with Jason. Of all the guys in the city, what are the odds they'd run into the guy their friend just dated? On that note, one odd thing about this movie: it's set in San Francisco and deals heavily with love and dating - why isn't there a gay character or even a mention of the city's heavy gay/lesbian community? It could have been an interesting and even rather bold move to have a gay male friend among the group, not only to mix it up but also provide the film another strong red herring. Too many blond women in the group as it is.
31:00 Cauffiel reacting to the artist guy, who is red herring... what, 7 or 8?
32:00 Shelton talking instead of listening to the pretentious artist douche, who looks like the guy from Creed by the way.
33:00 The girls walking around the crazy art exhibit.
34:00 Cauffiel making out with the artist.
35:00 Cauffiel wandering around the suddenly empty exhibit.
36:00 The Cherub pulling back an arrow. Awesome weapon! I wish they had used it more, but I guess even with slasher logic it would be hard to justify him carrying the damn thing around all the time.
37:00 Boreanaz laying on the charm.
38:00 They're still chatting.
39:00 The cop talking to the girls.
40:00 The girls walking from a house.
41:00 Richards talking. Man, this movie's chatty.
42:00 Boreanaz offering his theory on the killer. A-ha! Curious how many people were genuinely surprised that he was the villain; early plot descriptions (and even the back of some DVD cases in other regions) give it away by saying Boreanaz plays the grown up/now handsome man who was tormented as a kid by our leading ladies. I assume that stems from the source novel by Tom Savage, which is much different. In the movie's defense, however, it would be impossible to depict the book's twist on-screen, because in the book (literary spoiler!) all of the girls know the grown up Jeremy under different identities, something that wouldn't work on-screen without giving Boreanaz a disguise or something. See The Prestige for why this is never a good idea.
43:00 The girls at the police station.
44:00 The cop reacting to a dumb question.
45:00 Cop being snarky again. This guy's not a bad actor, but I wish they had some sort of genre vet in the role; someone like Bruce Campbell would have been terrific.
46:00 Capshaw storming off.
47:00 Richards deflecting the cop's advances.
48:00 Death by iron! This would be red herring #6, cross him off your "Potential suspects" list.
49:00 Boreanaz and Shelton talking some more. I guess this stuff is fine if you somehow don't know/strongly suspect he's the killer, but on repeat viewings (and now that I have a "count" of how many there are) it's a bit much.
50:00 A little bit where Boreanaz dances a little jig after scoring a kiss from Shelton, which is weird when you consider that he's a killer.
51:00 Shelton and Richards hanging out. If nothing else, this movie can't be accused of the usual slasher problem of people seeming like they have no reason to be hanging out. Even Scream never quite made sense out of Randy's place in the group, but I have no trouble buying these four gals as friends.
52:00 Still chilling.
53:00 Capshaw talking to her boyfriend.
54:00 HAH! Capshaw's boy couldn't get it up. Don't worry man, it happens to lots of guys in movies that need a comedic beat right about now.
55:00 "Sorry my junk doesn't want you, here, have this necklace."
56:00 The boyfriend on the phone. There was an embezzling/identity theft subplot with this guy, if memory serves.
57:00 A flickering fluorescent light. Maybe James Cameron directed this scene.
58:00 The boyfriend lighting a furnace. Looks like we're going to miss another kill. I wish Jamie Blanks had the foresight to consider that maybe someday the movie's only fan would write about each minute mark of the movie and put something worthy of a screenshot at a few of them. And I might not even be kidding about being the only fan; when I met Blanks at a screening of Storm Warning I told him I was a fan of this film. His response: "Why?"
59:00 Shelton wandering around the impossibly lavish party. Much like Scream, the entire final act of the film takes place in one giant house, and needs to find a way to get rid of like 50 people instead of having the killer go nuts. Note - if you'd like to see what happens when a big party does NOT break up, check out the movie Sweatshop.
1:00:00 Capshaw snapping at Shelton. It literally takes an hour for four beautiful women with romantic issues to start being bitchy toward each other, which makes less sense than any of the slasher stuff.
1:01:00 Shelton and Boreanaz being cutesy.
1:02:00 Richards making out with one of the red herrings, the speed-dater guy.
1:03:00 Now they're in the bedroom.
1:04:00 Still there.
1:05:00 Richards tying the guy up, not for sexual reasons. I forget why she's doing this, but it's a cute little "revenge" scene that got a lot of laughs in the theater. If nothing else, the movie can claim that it's the first rom-com slasher movie; it doesn't come across much in this writeup, but there's a lot of harmless "Oh, the woes of dating in the modern day!" bits, sort of like a younger, less pun-filled Sex And The City. But with a slasher.
1:06:00 Some lady yelling at Capshaw. Can't remember who this character is.
1:07:00 The artist trying to hit on Shelton as a Disturbed song plays on the soundtrack. Yeah, trendy city folks love dancing to angry guy hard rock.
1:08:00 That lady from 1:06 going through Capshaw's stuff.
1:09:00 The ugliest wallpaper ever to exist? Surely.
1:10:00 Angry lady's face of fear as Cherub approaches.
1:11:00 Shot of a door that Cherub is presumably behind. It's funny that I'm drawing a blank on this character, it's the most drawn out stalk sequence since Heigl's.
1:12:00 He's still after her!
1:13:00 Capshaw and Shelton talk about the possibility that Jeremy is there. I guess the mystery lady is dead. Another missed chance for a good screenshot.
1:14:00 Shelton storming off from Boreanaz after discovering that he's off the wagon again. Which is fine by me, personally I don't think we have enough slashers who are also alcoholics.
1:15:00 At long last! The hot tub scene! This seems to be the only thing anyone remembers from the movie; unknown if it's because the kill itself is so cool or because it happens to the movie's worst actress.
1:16:00 Richards gets suspicious after receiving her Valentine.
1:17:00 Richards playing the classic slasher game: "Who's there? This isn't funny!"
1:18:00 Cool overhead shot of Richards trapped in the tub.
1:19:00 The first Minute by Minute-ized impact shot of the movie!
1:20:00 The most obnoxious moment in the flick, when Shelton tells Capshaw that Boreanaz's character "is no angel." SO MANY LEVELS!!! Whoever of the four credited screenwriters came up with that should never work on a movie again (hopefully it wasn't Donna and Wayne Powers, because they also wrote Deep Blue Sea and thus should be writing every movie).
1:21:00 Shelton and Capshaw argue about whose boyfriend is more likely to be a killer. Since Capshaw's guy is dead, my money's on Boreanaz.
1:22:00 Shelton hears the cell phone of a victim she was trying to call. This might have been one of the first horror movies to use this gag, actually. Someone correct me!
1:23:00 Shelton finds the cell phone. So it took her a minute.
1:24:00 Look at this shot and take into consideration that at this point they still haven't revealed Boreanaz as the killer.
1:25:00 She's hugging him, trying to lower his guard. It's a fun little bit because she thinks he's the killer, but first time audiences are presumably thinking that he's NOT because it's "too obvious." Scream pulled this off fairly well, but it's not quite as successful here since the only other potential suspects would be one of the girls themselves, as the other guys never quite registered (and many of them are dead by now anyway).
1:26:00 Shelton sees a room in disarray.
1:27:00 Shelton, scared of Boreanaz.
1:28:00 Shelton wandering around with a gun.
1:30:00 The movie's almost successful attempt at a twist, as we're pretty damn sure by now that Boreanaz is the killer only for him to be the one to "unmask" the "real" culprit. What keeps it from working is basically the entire history of whodunit slasher movies - the killer has to explain his/herself after being unmasked, THEN killed. There might be others, but the only other one I can think of that didn't have it that way was (fellow Minute by Minute entry) Friday the 13th Part V, which isn't supposed to be a whodunit so it kind of works. And we still get the explanation there, unlike this movie which has less than 6 minutes to go counting end credits, and thus they wouldn't have time for that. It's a good try though, they score some points.
1:31:00 Boreanaz and Shelton, talking in the epilogue.
1:32:00 Shelton snuggles up against Boreanaz, who is about to reveal himself only to us. The "his nose bleeds after he kills someone" concept is an acknowledged homage to the underrated 1982 flick Alone In The Dark, though some folks just say it's just a theft. No, a theft is when the director claims he never saw the movie that has the exact same plot points, not when the director talks about it in pre-release interviews because he too feels that the older film is under-appreciated.
1:33:00 Cast credits, no one of note that I can detect.
1:34:00 Art/set decorator credits.
1:35:00 Song credits, of which this movie has a ton. Nice little time capsule of early 00s nu-metal: Deftones, Linkin Park, and Static-X just on this frame alone!
And that's it! The film's editor knew someday this thing would be Minute by Minute-d and thus it ends at 1:35:59, which spares me from describing the legal credits.
Is it one of the best slasher movies ever? No. Clearly just from the above "dissection" we can see that it's a bit too slowly paced for this sort of thing, and that the mystery doesn't quite live up to the other whodunits of the late 90s/early 00s slasher revival (and that it invites the most immediate comparison to My Bloody Valentine, arguably one of the best whodunit slashers of all time, doesn't help). But it still gets a bum rap, I think - it's exceptionally well made and stylish for a movie that only cost 10 million bucks, for one thing. And of all the post-Scream slashers, it delivers the most creepy/iconic looking killer; he's the only one that got a mask, the others just got big hoods and shadows to obscure their face.
Also, it's fun without being too "clever". Apart from the dumb "Angel" line, there's no meta/post-modern humor; the funny bits in the film arise from the situations and clueless male characters, not the fact that the characters had all seen My Bloody Valentine and Hospital Massacre. And while it may pale in comparison to MBV in every other aspect, I like that they really tied it into the holiday's traditions and superstitions. MBV might as well have been any random holiday, but this one wouldn't really work without everyone panicking about being alone, getting unwanted valentine cards/gifts, the whole nine yards. So in terms of the "Holiday Horror" sub-genre, it's a minor classic.
Plus they kill off Katherine Heigl in the first 12 minutes. That's gotta count for something.