Bad Love

A slasher flick that fails miserably.

This is how this yarn unravels: a Junior High Valentine dance sees a gaggle of girls turning down a dorky, buck-toothed boy's ardent invitations to dance. A stale portrayal of the misfit taking a beating and being publicly humiliated is all here,complete with the punch being spilled over his head and the pants being pulled off.

Dissolve thirteen years (how cliched!) to the present. The five girls are now cleavage-happy chicks on the rampage to rooting romances. The gruesome murder of one of them, followed by a spate of nasty Valentine cards to the rest, alerts the girls to the initials signed at the back of every card: JM. Investigations by the local police prompt the women to recall the incidents at the Valentine dance in high school, and the boy they spurned, Jeremy Melton.

Of the girls, Kate (Shelton) is in the throes of a barely-there relationship with Adam (Boreanaz from "Buffy The Vampire Slayer"), whose alcohol-addicted behaviour incites her to meet with other men at a dating bar.  Dorothy is the one who’s only just metamorphosed into a slimmer version of her high school days, and is now housing a bloke she met a month ago at yoga. Paige (Richards), the most feisty of the lot, is staving off advances by the detective on the job, while on the lookout for a date for the Valentine’s Day bash at Dorothy’s pad. This is the final location where the mystery killer is stripped of his mask - an eerie Cupid facade he sports at every slaying.

This flick delivers no more than an average "I Know What You Did Last Summer" or "Urban Legends" - and even those are incomparable to the spine chillers of old-time cinema. These are the new batch of whodunits that come glazed with a veneer of urban chic and just that hint of understated gore. Minimalist brutality is the codeword, with dark corridors and startling entrees making up the quotient of horror. 

Not much to rave about, this one is OK to balance the quota of feel-good flicks that have infested the cinema circuit this season.

This article was first published on 26 Dec 2001.