Slasher movies, jolt-worthy or terrible, have an uncanny way of reflecting the teen-sex zeitgeist. The first-generation model, epitomized by Halloween, was drenched in hormonal guilt: The lascivious were punished, and it was the lone virgin, drawing on her ”virtue,” who had the strength to survive. In Valentine, there isn’t a young woman in sight who’s a virgin, but in this case the assorted vixen-victims, led by Denise Richards and her spectacular wall of teeth, treat any man who tries to date one of them with such snooty, as-if! contempt that the movie becomes a violent revenge fantasy against the underlying hostile dismissiveness of girl power.
In a replay of Prom Night, we’re led to believe that the mad killer, who wears a Cupid mask, is a former junior-high geek seeking retribution for the night he was humiliated at a school dance. But he could just as well be any of the grown-up lotharios on screen, including one played by heartthrob David Boreanaz (of TV’s Angel). They’re either too sleazy or too nice – damned whichever way – and so the movie, which doesn’t contain a single scary or imaginative moment, generates its only semblance of aggressive tension in the image of young women reducing men to sex objects whom they then despise for actually wanting to have sex. It’s enough to make Friday the 13th look friendly. D
STARRING Denise Richards David Boreanaz WARNER BROS. RATED R 95 MINUTES