Into the Dark: My Valentine

1 out of 5

Directed by: Maggie Levin

Cripes, this is one of those unfortunate film experiences that just can’t help but dig its own hole deeper and deeper.  I do think there are separate pieces of this that work – some stylistic pieces, some performances, some plot elements – but it’s all bandaided together monstrously, rendering each of those pieces rather, I’m sorry to say, worthless.

The best bits are near the beginning: pop star Valentine (Britt Baron) is playing a gig to a pretty enthused show, excepting three crowd hecklers who, along with some intermingled editing cuts, give us one piece of My Valentine’s gist: that there’s another pop star named Trezzure (Anna Lore) who looks the same and who sings the same and who these trio are convinced is the creator of the shtick Valentine is ripping off.  The glitzy effects employed by Levin during this sequence sync up well, and the original music is good.  The banter amidst the hecklers is a bit forced, but it sort of works with the stylistic delivery.  Soon after this sequence, we get the other part of the gist: enter Royal (Benedict Samuel), Trezzure’s agent, who pays the venue to empty out excepting the two girls and himself, and via another flurry of editing – a bit less successfully employed this time – we see that Royal used to be Valentine’s agent, and boyfriend, and that he ‘molded’ her into the pop star he wanted to see, with a heaping helping of emotional abuse (and some physical) on top of it.  Unsubtle clues show that Trezzure is on the same path.

While the moments where the script breaks to deliver us handbook “how to survive an abusive relationship” dialogue is, again, a bit forced, Baron and Samuel both do well with the material, and there would have been the possibility for a valid, topical drama in there, albeit one without much depth to it, which feels like a cheap shot for an important topic, but it’s one that deserves to be hit harder than this films treatment of it.

…Which may seem like irony, as I’m neglecting the other part of the movie: the Into the Dark horror part.  As we’ve seen with this series, the “message” films suffer the worst from trying to remember to include blood and guts, and My Valentine’s unbelievable attempts at forcing us into a situation where Royal is dropping bodies left and right – unbelievable for how lazy and dumb they are, where an open door is avoided because a few people are standing in front of it, or where a business apparently doesn’t have a landline (businesses are, like, the last refuge for being able to find a wired phone…), and many other eye-rollingly stupid, even for horror, examples of why things didn’t have to play out they way they’re telegraphed to – these attempts really take their toll on the movie’s watchability, even at a 79-minute runtime.  What’s doubly unfortunate about this is that these thin attempts at genre make those moderately worthwhile elements feel empty without a solid framework, and Levin’s visuals end up feeling weightless and pointless for the same reason.

Remake this as more of a character drama, and I’d give it a second go.