Valentines Massacre (2006) – By Duane L. Martin

 It was the last day of the It Came From Lake Michigan Film Festival and I was standing around in the lobby of the main hall waiting for my ride to show up. I met someone involved with this movie, and I can’t remember who it was exacly, so apologies for that. Things were pretty strange and surreal for me during that final hour at the festival and I was more focused on saying my goodbye’s and what not than anything else.

Anyway, he gave me a copy of this movie to check out when I told him who I was and I offered to review it in the magazine for him. He said I didn’t have to but if I wanted to it would be cool. So I am. Unfortunately, I can’t say as I’m going to be giving it a good review, but I am giving it an honest and constructive review, which any film maker should hopefully be able to appreciate.

Valentine’s Massacre is a short film about a crazy chef who cooks people up in his restaurant and serves them to his customers. He has an accomplice in this who does the actual kidnappings and murders for him and he buys the butchered up meat from the guy. Well after a girl goes into his house on a dare to grab something and then comes running out with it, she becomes his next victim. There’s really no connection though I don’t think because the other guy is the one who abducted her after she grabbed a pizza at the crazy chef’s restaurant.

Basically the crazy chef either cooks people up or locks them in his basement after mutilating them. Well the girl he had abducted this time was the daughter of a cop, and the cop goes looking for her. When he finally finds her at the chef’s house, the chef has already gouged out one of her eyes and sewn the eyelid shut. Then he starts messing with her when the cop shows up.

But enough about the story, because it doesn’t really matter. The whole thing really made little sense and the film as a whole had so many problems that I don’t even know where to begin. What I will do is start with what actually worked in the film.

The film itself has a decent look and the editing is done pretty well. The gore effects are ok, with some of them actually being really quite good, and the editing moves the story, such as it is, along at a decent pace. The sound was generally good, the camera shots were generally set up quite well and the lighting on the indoor scenes was good. But unfortunately, that’s where the good things end.

The story, I’m sorry to say, is not only pretty bad, but has also been done before. The whole premise that a crazy chef could serve human meat in his restaurant and no one would notice is ridiculous. Anyone who eats meat would know instantly that that wasn’t what they were eating. The only way people might notice is if he told them it was something weird like horse meat, but even then I think people would probably be suspicious. Then there’s some little things, like the girl getting abducted after getting a pizza to go at his restaurant. Now it seems to me that a restaurant that sold real food wouldn’t be the kind of a place a teenager would go to get a take out pizza.

Then there’s the scene in the chef’s basement where he’s torturing the girl. It’s lit with red lights and there’s a strobe light going. Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t see a crazy serial killer actually taking the time to set up his torture area with red lights and a strobe light. I know he’s supposed to be crazy, but come on.

As far as the acting goes, it was just ok, but never rose above that level on the part of anyone in the film. Some of the acting was quite bad, but never really reached down into the levels of horrible, though most of it sounded rehearsed and read. One of the biggest problems I have with this movie is that the "teenagers" looked like they were in their 20’s somewhere and the guy who played the cop that was supposed to be the father of the abducted girl and one of the guy teenagers was maybe up to six or eight years older than them at the most. Gee, that’s a neat trick. I’ve heard of starting young, but that’s ridiculous. Some better choices in casting could have been made here that would have made it all far more believable.

While I applaud the effort, as I do with all young film makers trying to explore their way through crafting their art, I can’t applaud the result in this case. More attention to story and casting would have done wonders for this film. I do see potential here, and hopefully director Trevor Murray will continue to grow and expand his horizons with each progressive film.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the Sleep Hollow Productions website at http://www.valentinesmassacre.com.