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Boys can be so creepy and Jeremy’s the creepiest in his sixth-grade class. At the Valentine’s Day dance, no girl would be caught dead with the skinny, four-eyed geek — at least no popular girl. But young Dorothy Wheeler wasn’t popular back then. She was fat and nobody popular would be caught dead with her either. Jeremy’s offer to dance develops into feverish necking under the gym bleachers — until the class jocks discover “Thick and Thin getting it on.”

What’s a girl to do? To save whatever little hope of a reputation that she has, Dorothy cries the middle-school equivalent of rape, giving the malicious little jocks the excuse to open some frosty whupass junior on Jeremy. The little “pervert” is expelled and sent up the river to reform school while Dorothy, though guilt-stricken, keeps her lips buttoned. Dorothy (Jessica Capshaw) goes from geek to chic and is elected into the in-crowd that cruelly rejected Jeremy. Thirteen years later, they all receive macabre Valentine’s Day cards and it seems they all soon will be caught dead with Jeremy — literally.

Valentine is yet another horror flick that attempts to use the Scream formula: Pretty young starlets and dimpled young hunks-to-die-for are stalked by some masked psycho killer with a damaged-little-boy past, a second-generation Michael Myers from the Halloween movies or Jason from the Friday the Thirteenth flicks (both derived from Hitchcock’s seminal psycho, Norman Bates). Though Valentine lacks the wit of the Scream films, it occasionally shocks when it doesn’t telegraph its gory punches.

Valentine borrows at will from the slasher flick canon. There are allusions to Carrie’s prom-night bloodbath and Psycho’s shower scene, and of course the standard props (the indispensable butcher knife) and plot twists (Hitchcockian “red herrings”).

Between the screams, the true horror of Valentine seems to be the breakdown of American courtship, which finds an image in a maggot-filled chocolate. Hmmm. Happy Valentine’s Day.

E-mail James Keith La Croix at [email protected].

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