February 8, 2020 Cupid (Movie Review)
Valentine’s Day often elicits thoughts of love and the colors pinks and red. It is a day to celebrate love with the mascot of an adorable cherub cupid spreading it. However, this is not the real cupid, in fact the Roman god is much more dark than his marketable image. That is where Writer and Director Scott Jeffrey (The Bad Nun 2018, The Final Scream 2019) comes in with this new Cupid, due to DVD and Digital on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 via Uncork’d Entertainment.
Seeking to show the ‘love god’ in his true form, Cupid stars Georgina Jane (The 12 2017, Pet Graveyard 2019) and Bao Tieu (Blood and Fairy Tales 2016, Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom 2018) and destroys all illusions of having a happy Valentine’s Day. Faye (Jane) is a teenager who is attempting to navigate the horrors of high school and a shattered home life. She is constantly being bullied by resident mean girl, Elise (Sarah T. Cohen: Younger 2015, The Interestings 2016), and her gang of friends. She has the support of her best friend, Matt (Ali Barouti: Brothers with No Game 2012, Mogul Mowgli 2020), but it is not enough to fulfill her. Faye has also fallen for her teacher, Duncan Jones (Michael Owusu: The Legend of Tarzan 2016, Chopsticks!! 2018). Mr. Jones is a favorite among the student body, as well as his fellow teacher Heather Drake (Abi Casson Thompson: Tlaloc Sacrificium 2019, The Candy Witch 2020). Elise plans to use that to her advantage.
After a particularly humiliating bullying event orchestrated by Elise on Valentine’s Day, Faye is left devastated and distraught. She often practices black magic to relieve stress, and this time she attempts and succeeds in summoning Cupid (Tieu). If Faye cannot have her one true love, she does not want anyone else to have it either. Now that the dark Roman god has been summoned the question arises: Who will survive this Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day is either a sweet or depressing holiday depending on a person’s relationship status. Most films and TV shows are centered around the happy or coupled, but Cupid offers an alternative to this lovey narrative. It is a brilliant way for the single or anti-love viewers to still be included in this very exclusive holiday. Jane’s Faye does what a lot of depressed singles wish they could do when happiness is shoved in their face; kill love. If it does not exist it can no longer taunt. Though most would not go to the extreme of summoning evil, she represents everything that a person with a broken heart becomes. Her pain and the stages of it shown onscreen help make her and the film even more relatable.
Cohen’s Elise is the breakout star of the entire production. She is snarky, mean, and flippant; the epitome of the typical mean girl. Her only motivation in the entire film appears to be to make Faye’s life a living hell, and the character itself displays all the typical tropes of the despised bully wrapped into one. It is her delivery and presence that is sheer magic, creating a scenario where the viewer will be conflicted between rooting for her death and hoping she survives.
The most jarring aspect of the film is the portrayal of cupid. Mass marketing has ingrained an image of an angelic baby-faced cherub into our minds; cupid is supposed to be soft and cuddly and loveable. This cupid is the complete opposite: Tieu’s Cupid does don the traditional toga, has wings, and carries a bow and arrow, but that is where the physical similarities end. His skin is grey and sickly looking, and his face is not full of pink cheeks and smiles, rather it is a ghastly mash up of skin and skull. His appearance alone is enough to run for the hills on every February 14th until eternity, and his quiet mannerisms and odd movements only heighten this fear.
Cupid is a fairly basic, formulaic teenage slasher film. Almost the entirety of the film happens at a high school in the days leading up to the Valentine’s Ball, and the popular mean kids, weird girl, and not so secretly pining best friend all exist in this realm. Throw in a couple of attractive teachers and the scene is set. For Cupid, this formula works, and it is the addition of the lore of the gods that helps to elevate the film to something worth viewing more than once. Plus, there is something so satisfying watching a black-hearted god hunt down shallow teenagers that will make the viewer question the darkness of their own hearts.
Overall, Cupid is a fun teenage Horror film full of angst, attitude, and death. There is also a pinch of camp added to the mix and the acting , while not exactly stellar, works. True, it is somewhat formulaic in its telling, but it still provides the viewer with a unique perspective on a holiday that is not widely considered to be dark and menacing. For this, Cupid is bound to help cheer a broken heart on the loneliest of all holidays. Clever and just plain fun to watch (just do not do it with someone you love), Cryptic Rock gives Cupid 3.5 out of 5 stars.