February can be the coldest month — especially when it’s the February following a particularly hellish year and you didn’t get around to cuffing someone for the season. Or maybe you just generally dislike displays of affection and consumeristic cash-grabs. Either way, February, and particularly February 14, is a loaded period of time whether you’re in a relationship or not. Feelings are at an all-time high, and not all of those feelings are necessarily loving.
From attracting a partner to maintaining a relationship, the gambit of love can be pretty terrifying even without the outside pressures of a Hallmark holiday sending you scrambling to be saccharine sweet to a significant other. Take solace in the fact you’re not alone with the Schadenfreude of these terrifyingly titillating titles. Picnics and parties gone awry, lovers who
aren’t what they seem, killer Cupids and maladjusted meet-cutes — Valentine’s Day may seem bad, but it could always be worse.
This February 14, pick your poison, grab some sweets, and indulge. After all, love is terrifying — and so is an annual holiday designated to celebrating it publicly. Might as well embrace the horror of the season.
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
In 1900s Victoria, Australia, a group of students and two teachers from an all-girls private school trek to a geological formation known as Hanging Rock. It’s Valentine’s Day and this collection of women hope to enjoy a quiet picnic near the rock formation. Instead, three students and an instructor go missing after a bizarre and disturbing trance on the top of the rock.
Based on the 1967 book by Joan Lindsay, who had intentionally kept the veracity of the story ambiguous, Picnic at Hanging Rock has that might-be-true feel, keeping the creepiness at an all-time high throughout its runtime. (Available on HBO Max.)
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Quentin Tarantino’s favorite slasher, My Bloody Valentine takes Valentine’s Day underground. Literally. After two inattentive supervisors leave a group of miners trapped underground following a methane explosion during a Valentine’s Day dance, one miner must cannibalize his deceased comrades to survive until he is freed from the shaft — a week later. Driven mad, the miner goes on a kind-of-understandable rampage on the following Valentine’s Day, to deter the mining town from ever having a Valentine’s Day dance again.
Fast-forward 20 years: The mayor tries to reinstate a Valentine’s Day dance only for the killing to begin again. (Available on CBS All Access.)
Bride of Re-Animator (1989)
There’s a perfect person for everyone — unless that person is dead. Then, you have to reconstruct a body using your dead lover’s heart as the centerpiece. This is the plot of Re-Animator’s sequel, Bride of Re-Animator. Released on Valentine’s Day, Bride of Re-Animator follows the singleminded Herbert West in his attempt to create the perfect woman — from corpses. Taking advantage of the grief-stricken Dan Cain, who’s fiancée met her untimely demise in the first Re-Animator installment, West begins cobbling together limbs and ligaments in this comedic reimagining of The Bride of Frankenstein. Get ready for heads to roll. (Available on Shudder and Amazon Prime.)
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Released on February 14, Silence of the Lambs isn’t your typical Valentine’s Day film — the romance is one-sided (Hannibal Lecter has a crush on Agent Starling, who just wants to save a woman from being skinned) and there’s a body count — but it reminds us of the dangers of coveting and being coveted. And these are both important lessons for this particular holiday. In short, don’t be jealous of lovey-dovey couples or parade your relationship all over social media to spite the singles — instead, have an old friend for dinner. (Streaming on Showtime.)
Director of Urban Legend Jamie Blanks takes ’90s and early aughts mainstays Denise Richards, David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton, Jessica Capshaw, and Katherine Heigl and asks, “What if a guy in a Cupid masks started killing co-eds on Valentine’s Day?” and then gave us … exactly that.
Critics panned this one for being too similar to ’80s slashers (as if that’s a bad thing?)but this ridiculous romp — and its ridiculous twist — is the perfect flick to gleefully remind you that relationships sometimes aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. (Available to rent on Amazon.)
Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
Do you ever feel like you and your significant other are stuck in a loop, doing the same ol’ day in and day out? Did you feel this way even before 2020?
The sequel to Happy Death Day, released on Valentine’s Day, shows what it could be like if you were trapped in an alternate universe where your partner is with someone else and you have to keep dying to avoid watching your loved ones be murdered. This one will make you appreciate what you have. Or grateful for what you don’t have: the obligation to constantly sacrifice yourself for someone else. Either way, this sci-fi-horror-comedy makes for a fun, violent jaunt. (Available to rent on Amazon.)
The Love Witch (2016)
Although it looks like it was made in the psychedelic ’60s (it’s a loving homage, filmed in 35mm Technicolor), The Love Witch is a modern story about a modern woman looking for love — leaving bodies in her wake. Director Anna Biller expertly pairs female fantasy with the trope of the
femme fatale. This is the flick to watch if you’re single and need a reminder that being alone is better than being dead. Or if you’re in a relationship and want to give a toxic warning to your partner. (Available on Shudder.)
Down (2019) and My Valentine (2020)
Blumhouse Productions’ holiday-themed horror anthology series Into the Dark released the Valentine’s Day entries Down and My Valentine, each a year apart and each with a different spin on the horrors of February 14.
Down focuses on a meet-cute turned sinister when two employees in the same office building, but who work on different floors, find themselves trapped in a malfunctioning elevator on the day before the weekend — and the eve of Valentine’s Day. Yes, that means it just so happens to be Friday the 13. And although it seems love is blossoming, everything upends pretty quickly.
My Valentine also explores a woman trapped with a love interest, but this time it’s a former love interest and his new girlfriend. Instead of an elevator, a small concert hall acts as the confined space where the trio delve through old emotional wounds that soon transform into more literal wounds. (Available on Hulu.)