Love is in the air. On the most romantic day of the year, would-be lovers woo hearts with flowers, candy, cards and gifts.
Best friends Kate (MARLEY SHELTON), Paige (DENISE RICHARDS), Dorothy (JESSICA CAPSHAW), Lily (JESSICA CAUFFIEL) and Shelly (KATHERINE HEIGL) are young women looking for a relationship - a valentine to die for.
And this year they might just get their wish.
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment, a Dylan Sellers Production, the horror thriller "Valentine," starring DAVID BOREANAZ (TV's "Angel"), DENISE RICHARDS ("The World Is Not Enough"), MARLEY SHELTON ("Never Been Kissed") and KATHERINE HEIGL (TV's "Roswell.") The thriller is directed by JAMIE BLANKS ("URBAN LEGEND") from a screenplay by DONNA POWERS & WAYNE POWERS ("Deep Blue Sea") and GRETCHEN J. BERG & AARON HARBERTS, based on the novel by TOM SAVAGE. DYLAN SELLERS ("The Replacements") is the producer. GRANT ROSENBERG (TV's "Lois & Clark ") and BRUCE BERMAN ("The Matrix," "Red Planet") are the executive producers. RICK BOTA is director of photography; STEVE MIRKOVICH, A.C.E ("I Know What You Did Last Summer") is the editor; STEPHEN GEAGHAN (TV's "The Outer Limits") server as Production Designer; DON DAVIS ("The Matrix") scored the film.
"Valentine" is set against the background of the tradition of Valentine's Day, a time when love is on everyone's mind. "Sex and love go hand in hand with death in all horror films," says producer Dylan Sellers. "You're already going into a holiday that focuses on the former, so it's only natural that death comes along for the ride too. Our story takes revenge and obsession up a notch. And that's what this movie is - these men and women desperately looking for love and crossing the line."
The film resolves around Kate (Marley Shelton), Paige (Denise Richards), Dororthy (Jessica Capshaw), Lily (Jessica Cauffiel) and Shelly (Katherine Heigl), who grew up together, went through school together and share their dreams of the perfect boy and the perfect future. Lily is the school princess; Paige, the class bad girl; Kate is quiet; Dorothy plump and insecure. The four become a group and stick together, scorning the nerds and presenting a unified front to the school bullies.
"Junior high is the strangest time of your life," says Marley Shelton, who stars as Kate, "because in the grand scope it's only a few years of your life, but for some reason - I think a combination of puberty and all the changes going on - everybody really remembers those years. I do think that a lot of our identity is shaped during that time, and, it does effect who we are, presently. So I think it's really great that this movie hits on that and, and uses that as an engine."
Years later, they are still friends. Their lives now include careers but, like many young women, they are navigating through the singles scene. "These women truly do not know what's in store for them and how their earlier indiscretions are going to come back to haunt them," says director Jamie Blanks.
David Boreanaz, whose star has catapulted in the top-rated series "Buffy" and his own spin-off "Angel," makes his big screen starring debut as Adam, a sports writer with whom journalist Kate finds herself in a on-again-off-again relationship. "Adam has a thing for Kate," says Boreanaz. As the film unfolds, and terrible things begin to happen to Kate and her circle of friends, Adam and Kate become even closer. Boreanaz explains, "He tries to make her feel at ease in a very uneasy situation that he finds himself in the middle of. He's trying to be a shoulder to cry on and just comfort her. I've always loved playing those comforting roles," he jokes.
Denise Richards, who ignited the screen in "Wild Things," plays Paige, whom the young actress describes as "very sassy and witty. Paige knows exactly what she wants and sticks up for herself always." When the film takes a darker turn, Richards explains "Paige is not afraid. She will not shrink at the first sign of trouble but charge into it without fear."
Jessica Cauffiel stars as Lily, who has become enthralled with artist Max Ives (Johnny Whitworth). "Lily is a fun member of this foursome, this group of girls, who all have distinctive personalities," says Cauffiel. "Lily is the goofy one with the incessant wit and sense of humor. She is always dating the wrong men. She is roommates with Paige, who is the group sexpot, and Lily is always there with a witty quip. When necessary."
Jessica Capshaw plays Dorothy, still the poor little rich girl, who is falling way too fast for handsome Campbell (Daniel Cosgrove), a charmer who keeps his past to himself. "Dorothy was always a really shy girl and is always battling all these demons," says Capshaw. "She had a family that wasn't so caring and she was just kind of different than everyone else. Now she's grown up to be something quite different, and very much looks like she belongs, but still feels like the little girl that didn't belong."
The story begins before Valentine's Day when the friends convene for a close friend's funeral, after which they all start receiving strange, menacing Valentine messages.
At first, the women dismiss the twisted greetings as a sick joke. Then they meet with the detective (Fulvio Cecere) investigating their friend's death and learn there could be a link to someone they all knew, and tormented, years ago, at a Valentine's dance in junior high school - a boy named Jeremy Melton. The police try to trace him but the trail is cold. They can find no recent address, employment record or photograph. If Jeremy Melton still exists, he could be anyone, anywhere.
As the threats of violence intensify, each of the women grapples with the realization that any man she knows - or ever knew - could be a vicious killer.
Though producer Dylan Sellers was intruiged by the juxtaposition of love and murder in the tale, he was most drawn to the characters in the film. "I am not interested in a cast of teens whose only focus is on what is happening on the screen and on who might die next," he says. "I wanted to have a story about real characters with real lives."
Director Jamie Blanks, who leapt onto to the horror scene with the hit "Urban Legend," agrees. "Each of these young women is a distinct, interesting character, " says Blanks.
For David Boreanaz, the opportunity to bring more humor into a character was a challenge the actor relished. "One of the most appealing aspects of the role for me was being able to sit down with Jamie and share my thoughts and opinions on the story," says Boreanaz. "That allowed me to feel free with the character I wanted to created with Adam. He's a very charming person and there are a lot of comedic elements to his character. There was also a lot of humor that was really fun to do."
"Since some of these people are going to die, we hope the audience will actually care about them," says Denise Richards.
Though "Valentine" is based on the best selling novel Valentine by Tom Savage, the filmmakers were committed to telling a unique story for the screen. The filmmakers even explored the idea of putting different characters behind the Cherub's mask.
When director Jamie Blanks joined the production, his passion for the horror / thriller genre became a valuable asset. "This is what I love and as long as there is an audience for these movies, I want to make them," says Blanks. "Fans of the genre should know this film is being made by one of their own."
After viewing John Carpenter's chiller "The Fog" at the tender age of 11, Blanks knew he wanted to make horror films. By the time he started his professional career, he had seen hundreds of death scenes, but with "Valentine," the director notes, "I think we've come up with a few really, really interesting ones. The stuff you don't show is always more terrifying. You've got to give the audience just enough information so that they can put it together for themselves. I think if you suggest it effectively, it's far more grisly than anything a special effects guy can show you."
Blanks feels no compunction about staging nasty deaths for the film's host of beautiful leads. "It just goes with the territory," he notes with a wry smile. "In real life, I'm opposed to violence but this is a movie - a very scary movie."
On set, many conversations ended with the words, "Excuse me, I have to go and die now."
"The way Jamie shoots and tells the story, you'll either get it or you won't, and you think you have it, but at the end this film is going to surprise a lot of people," says Boreanaz.
The filmmakers took care in drawing their female characters. Kate's decency, Lily's free spirit, Paige's daring and Dorothy's insecurity are reflected in their apartments, their jobs and their clothing. Each is a true individual, although all are linked by their shared experiences in childhood, by continued concern for each other and - eventually - by the threat they all face.
"We have been very lucky in pulling together a cast that really works for this project and with one another," says executive producer Grant Rosenberg. "Marley Shelton is just wonderful as Kate. She really has an ability to deal with both the humor of the situation, when called for, the sheer terror of the situation. Denise Richards as Paige brings to it not only her sense of humor but also an incredible screen presence and sexiness which is a dream come true for the Paige character. And Jessica Capshaw as Dorothy brings a real maturity and intelligence to the role. Jessica Cauffiel, who plays Lily, really lights up the screen. We got very, very lucky with out cast."
"Valentine" unfolds against a series of vivid backdrops - from Kate's apartment with its roof deck to funky nightclubs, trendy galleries and elegant restaurants.
Dizzying images of love and hate at Max's avant-garde art show in which reality and imagery are interchangeable provide a provocative backdrop for terror. What begins as an evening of fun becomes frightening, then terrifying, as the women are separated and masked killed - disguised as a "Cherub" - seeks his special valentine.
The art show features a spectacular display of lovers' images - from sweet to erotic - arranged in a complex maze of back-lit pillars and boxes. More than 1,000 individual images were shot, then edited, cropped and enlarged to produce the 300-plus that make up Max Ive's "Blind Date" show.
A Valentine's Day party in Dorothy's grand family mansion becomes another setting for terror. Amid an overblown explosion of pink - hearts, balloons, streamers and flowers - the women being to catch glimpses of their tormentor's now-trademark Cherub mask. "'Valentine' sets its most frightening moments against a backdrop of charm, wealth and beauty, " says production designer Steven Geaghan. "Death seems more shocking somehow when it visits such luxurious surroundings."
The setting for the Valentine's Day party - Dorothy's family home - is a real mansion in Vancouver, B.C. It was built at the height of the Roaring '20s and no expense was spared. The basic architecture is Spanish but the interior is decorated, in several styles, all executed with Baroque excess.
"It is pretty over the top to start with," says Geaghan. "We just put more gilding on the lily."
The gilding includes thousands of red, pink and white balloons arranged in columns and arches (creating the necessity of adding a balloon technician to the film crew). Hundreds of yards of pink tulle swath the walls. Garlands of tulle and roses weave through wrought iron star railings and drape the mantels. Gilded cherubs appear everywhere - pinned to walls, perched over fireplaces and hanging from chandeliers. The ballroom resembles a Victorian wedding cake turned inside out.
Then there is that hot tub in its huge, opulent spa room. Constructed in a dreary sound stage, this Moorish-themed set featuers tropical plants, a terra cotta floor, pink and green marble walls, stained glass ceiling panels, and niches filled with Oriental cushions and Italian statuary. The adjoining, cream marble bathroom is the height of glamour. It is the size of many bachelor apartments and would look perfectly appropriate on the pages of a glossy interior-decorating magazine. It is, one might say, a bathroom to die for.
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