Valentine review

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Having forced flop-shocker Urban Legend onto us in 1998, director Jamie Blanks is clearly hoping Valentine will reveal he's improved his slasher-helming talents - in practise, it only proves the opposite. Rather than hacking into new territory, Blanks blindly throws a predictable plot to an audience hungry for genuine thrills, simply splashing the screen with blood and upping the body count whenever any real suspense is required.

With this kind of movie, it usually helps if you like a few of the intended victims. But Valentine's bitchy quintet are so hateful, you soon wish the killer would gather them together in one room and lob a grenade at them (which, conveniently, would end the film quickly and salvage 90 minutes of your life).

Shoddy as it is, though, you can't lay all the blame on the script, given the paucity of acting `talent' here. Denise Richards is particularly awful as the promiscuous victim, Paige Prescott. Famed for her disgrace-to-the-franchise performance as Bond girl Christmas Jones, she fares even worse here: not only is she unable to utter a convincing word, she can't even scream realistically. Only David Boreanaz, in his first leading big-screen role, is tolerable. Yet while he provides relief from the tedium with a passable portrayal of a recovering alcoholic, the brooding actor is better off hiding his smile as TV's Angel.

Probably the film's only selling point (and a dubious one at that) is its salivating display of female flesh. However, if showing off the assets of Jennifer Love Hewitt and Rebecca Gayheart failed to improve I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend, a few tight tank tops and a bit of hot-tub action is hardly going to sharpen Valentine's blades. Take away the cheap titillation and you've got another teen thriller that tries to twist some life into a tired genre, only to end up being crushingly predictable rather than seat-grippingly scary.

The near-comatose slasher isn't beyond revival, but rather than jolting it into life, Valentine merely gives it more valium. Wait for this depressingly tedious and frustratingly predictable thriller to come out on video. Then don't rent it.

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