Valentine's Day on Screen: True Love Hurts | Raindance Film Festival

Valentine’s day on screen, love leads to pain…especially on 14 February

Expecting red roses and chocolates this Sunday?

Then good thing you’re not fictitious, as characters tend to do bad things for love (and hate) on 14 February. On the big screen, hearts are not so much broken as stabbed, creepy Valentine’s Day cards turn out to be ornate death threats, and sweet gifts are stuffed with deadly intent.

Britflick mocumentary Love Possibly focusses on Alex, a Londoner who is a rom-com obsessed virgin on a quest to find love. He meets Lana online, who decides to move to London to marry him, but things don’t go quite as they expect.

Producer Arabella Burfitt-Dons explains that Alex goes on a Valentine’s Day speed-dating evening to see if he can meet someone special, but finds out that romance is never straightforward.

She adds: “Love Possibly is a film that both inspires people to believe in romance, whilst also facing the realities of how finding true love is never how you think it’s going to be.

“Romance isn’t always how you see it in the rom coms – as Alex discovers when he goes searching for love.”

Steve Hodgetts, who plays Alex, adds that his character on Sunday will not be finding true love: “As much as Alex would absolutely love to be out finding the woman of his dreams, he won’t. He will be snuggled at home on his sofa watching Sleepless in Seattle for the 87th time with his favourite rug and a pot of ice cream.”

But things can get worse than just cuddling up at home on the sofa all alone. In other fictitious Valentine Day movies, unlike the feel-good flicks which end with the right boy and girl gazing into each other’s eyes under a full moon, the Naughties Valentine knows love hurts.

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary and shot as the ultimate 80s style slasher, Valentine starts with a boy at a high school prom getting rejected by four teenage girls, and then drenched in red fruit punch in a reference to the prom night humiliation scene from Carrie. It gets steadily less romantic from there on. Its four heroines, including Denise Richards, as adults find themselves stalked by their teenage crush, now a mysterious killer in a cherub’s mask, angry about their rejection of him all those years ago.

One of the heroines Shelley (a feisty cameo from Katherine Heigl as a trainee doctor) receives a chilling Victorian-themed Valentine’s Day card with a less-then-charming declaration of love: “The journey of love is an arduous trek/My love grows for you as you bleed from your neck”. Later that night, while she works late in the morgue, the cherub attacks her as she hides among the corpses, slashes her throat and she bleeds to death, as predicted.

This crazed cherub is no sweet love’s messenger. After sending Shelley’s friend Lily a heart-shaped box of chocolates – that turn out to be stuffed with maggots – he pursues her in a creepy maze armed with a bow and shoots his “arrow of love” literally through her heart.

In the 2009 remake of My Bloody Valentine 3D (set in a mining town haunted by a killer miner) you’re less likely to get a rose pressed into your hand than a pickaxe through the head. This time two candy boxes contains dismembered human hearts, and gory threats are scrawled in blood above the victim’s body, such the location-specific threat “Be Mine Forever” (all in glorious 3D).

So this Sunday, enjoy the chocolates, but don’t expect love to last. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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About 

Nina Romain hates to admit it, but subconsciously must loathe Valentine’s Day, as all her favourite horrors consist of candy-bearing, mask-wearing killers just waiting for 14 February to get even, and even produced a Los Angeles found footage short about a Valentine’s Day spent in a deserted San Diego zoo – being stalked by a killer. Someone get this girl a good soppy romcom boxset!
Her horror shorts tend to be shot half in the seedier side of LA and half in the darker side of the UK, including the UK's "most haunted" village. Last year she AD’d on a Covid-safe rom-com and created some microshort horrors, ranging from a pandemic nightmare in lockdown London (www.raindance.org/shooting-in-a-ghost-town) to a party no one leaves early…or alive. She’s currently looking forward to eating the chocolates her more-popular flatmates get on Valentine’s Day, and reviewing a lot of scripts while waiting for Spring to arrive. For more information, please visit: www.girlfright.com