Roses are red
Cupid is blue
The love destroyer is here
And aiming to kill you...
...Uncork’d Entertainment unites with writer/director Scott Jeffrey for a February themed movie which takes us down a route very rarely seen in the holiday horror genre. Combining a creature-feature with Mean Girls and adding a dash of black magic, Jeffrey gifts us the movie of Cupid just in time for Valentine’s Day. However, while the sentiment is there, this movie just doesn’t successfully woo us.
Valentine’s Day movies, while scarce, are not completely unheard of in the horror world and for good reasons. The holiday, on the surface, presents as a day of flowers, chocolate, and love. However, looking beyond the happy couples it is easy to find people riddled with jealousy, obsession, and even revenge. Even the traditional symbol of a disembodied heart can easily conjure up images of betrayal and gore. Another symbol which associates largely with the love-focused holiday and connects with violence is the image of Cupid. A figure usually depicted as a flying baby, armed with a bow and arrow and ready to strike anyone in the name of love. Since everyone knows the innocent version of Cupid, Jeffrey begins his holiday tale with a lesser known version of the familiar symbol of love. Taking some liberties with the story of Psyche and Cupid, the narrator shares a tale of lost love and anger. Instead of the pair uniting in marriage, Cupid loses his true love and now holds demon-esque status and can be summoned to avenge anyone who stands in the way of love.
Opening with a cool backstory about Cupid and followed by an intense arrow fight (hint: Cupid aims for the eye) involving a cheating father, the movie begins with just the right amount of demons and gore to get us in the Valentine’s mood. However, the pacing slows significantly as the real focus of the movie switches from horror to high school. Leading up to Valentine’s Day and the compulsory dance connected to the holiday, we see a non-descript high school where both students and teachers deal with the joys and pains of love. The dreamy Mr. Duncan Jones (Michael Owusu) steals the heart of everyone at the school, including fellow teacher Miss Drake (Abi Casson Thompson) and awkward goth girl Faye (Georgina Jane). And while these women seek to embrace love, snobby and popular Elise (Sarah T. Cohen) goes to Mean Girls level of destruction to end any happiness in Faye’s life. So, through a string of cruel pranks, Faye learns the harsh reality that ‘love stinks.’ Good thing for our poor abused goth girl, she’s got black magic on her side. After lighting a few candles and a quick incantation, Cupid the Love Destroyer vows to remove all love and replace it with poison.
After the opening sequence, it takes over half an hour for the gore to return. So, a large portion of the movie mimics every high school drama where we get a lot of teenage angst and bullying, but no horror related content. All of the interactions between the teenagers are filled with clumsiness or hate and the relationship between Mr. Jones and Miss Drake is just too awkward. So, it’s almost a relief when the murderous Cupid appears.
The love demon breaks up the monotony of high school crushes with some Valentine’s themed violence. Despite the numerous plots points and backstories, the characters fail to earn a lot of sympathy from the audience. However, you have to give the film credit for expanding on the Cupid-inspired weaponry and not limiting the creature to the traditional arrows. Roses, heart-shaped cookie cutters, and even love notes become integrated into the killer’s arsenal, allowing each character their own unique death.
Cupid gives horror fans a new holiday-themed film to watch for the season of love, but the mismatched romance between teenage crushes and a vengeful demon does not work for a successful relationship. The cat-and-mouse chase through the halls of the school gives some entertainment, but it just takes too long for the main conflict to arrive and then ends anti-climatically. A love inspired horror film is not impossible, but less teenage angst and more actual bleeding hearts would have helped make this film more memorable.
Cupid shoots an arrow through our eyes when it arrives on DVD/Digital February 11th from Uncork’d Entertainment.
By Amylou Ahava
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