Bloodrayne (2005)
By: Mr Intolerance on August 6, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Visual Entertainment (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. English and Spanish Subtitles. 98 minutes
The Movie
Director: Uwe Boll
Starring: Kristanna Loken, Michael Madsen, Matt Davis, Will Sanderson, Geraldine Chaplin, Udo Kier, Meat Loaf, Michael Pare, Billy Zane, Michelle Rodriguez, Ben Kingsley
Screenplay: Guinevere Turner
Music: Henning Lohner
Tagline: Driven by revenge...
Country: USA/Germany
Sigh. It's ten to six in the morning, I have to go to work in half an hour to spend my day doing things that make me want to kill myself instantly, I've got chronic insomnia and I've just spent the last 98 minutes and 47 seconds watching Bloodrayne. Unless my legs spontaneously fall off, I don't think my life could actually get any worse. On top of all that, now I have to go and get self defence lessons, 'cos if director Uwe Boll reads this, he might renew his interest in giving horror geeks who diss his movies a fierce beating.

I approached this movie with a positive mindset, despite the fact one of director Uwe Boll's previous films was the utterly execrable House of the Dead, because I really like the PlayStation 2 game it's based on. Hey, I thought, you can't judge someone based on one performance (which was my excuse to my last girlfriend…) – turns out I was wrong.

So the game – sexy female dhampir (half-human, half vampire) Rayne charges about in the 1930s slaying guys who look like zombies, as well as some mutants and Nazis. If there's any part of that sentence you don't like, you may well be reading the wrong review. It's big dumb fun, and that's kind of what I was expecting from the film. Matter of fact that was all I was expecting from the film – explosions, old-school dead guys shuffling about Romero-style, probably a bunch of CG slimy things and a whole bunch of tools in uniforms strutting about with bad Colonel Klink accents. So imagine my disappointment when I tune in to see no zombie-looking dudes, no mutants and no Nazis!

So, you're possibly wondering, what did I get? A thoroughly trite load of clichés cobbled together into an entertainment-free zone devoid of any interest, merit or charisma. The blame can't simply fall on the head of the director alone – the script writer needs to be strung up by the heels and beaten with sticks like a human pinata. The basic original story was great – so why fuck with it? So instead of starting in the 1930s in Louisiana, we're somewhere in Romania, somewhere in the 18th century. Rayne, instead of being gainfully employed as a kind of secret agent, is initially a circus freak whose trick is that she burns when water is poured on her (despite this fact, she later in the film dives headfirst into a reasonably deep pool and is submerged for quite some time, suffering no damage whatsoever – even in the game, which this is meant to be a prequel to according to the cast and crew commentary, she burns in water. The solution to how she can now take a dunking being that she has conveniently assimilated a magic item – sigh… I guess the magic must have worn off).

A funny thing just struck me – this version of the film bears the adline: "An Action-Packed Thrill Ride!" Did the person who wrote that see the same film as me? I'll admit that some of the fight scenes pay-off with a pleasing display of gore, but this film goes from charging around with swords (I kept thinking of that line from Holy Grail: "Knees bent running about advancing type behaviour") to static, dull and lifeless almost at the flick of a switch.

I won't waste too much of your time with the "plot", because I sort of figure if the director and the script-writer didn't bother to tell the story properly, I fail to see why I should. Blah-blah-blah, Rayne's father is the evil Lord Kagan, played by a hopefully dreadfully embarrassed Ben Kingsley (you know – the guy who won the Oscar for best actor playing Gandhi?), and she has to foil his evil plans to obtain bits of some other long since dead vampire (eye, heart and rib, if you must know) that will make him supreme vampire, or some such specious bullshit. Helping her along the way is Vladimir (Michael Madsen, sporting the kind of mullet Billy Ray Cyrus would salute) and some runty dude I couldn't even summon the energy to hate for having been in this festering swamp of a movie. Oh, and there's a chick called Katarin who is a pain in the hole, and eventually Rayne kills her for being a traitor (for the Resident Evil 4 fans out there, it's a Hunk-style neckbreaker), and her father (played by Billy Zane) is an aspiring vampire-on-the-make who wants to become boss, and whose character is left with no resolution. No seriously, he appears to becoming to be a major character, but there's nothing at the end – he just simply stops being in the movie. I was expecting a fight between him and Kagan, or him and Rayne, trying to get revenge for his daughter's death (oh, now here's a laugh – Katarin dives into a pool to retrieve the heart relic thing – there are two dudes hanging out with her, doing her bidding. Well, they obviously fucked off for a smoke or something, cos when Rayne drags Katarin out of the pool, there are no dudes – some serious dereliction of duty, Ms Scriptwriter), but, like I said – nada. That's some sloppy writing, right there.

Other instances where you're left literally breathless at the sheer incompetence on display: Almost all of the acting. Ben Kingsley must squirm thinking of this performance, and the actress playing Rayne, while being quite the stunner, delivers an almost lifeless take on the role. You could have put screen-shots from the game up on the screen (like Boll did previously in House of the Dead) and you'd have seen a more human performance; The movie just stops dead when all of the characters but Rayne do. She takes a seat on a particularly unimpressive chair looking grim and surrounded by corpses. Bam – credits. One of the worst "why bother" endings I've copped in some time; Meatloaf camping it up as some kind of vampire de Sade figure. The guy can really act – just watch Fight Club – what the hell was he doing here? Sure as hell wasn't good acting… And the script for his character was especially terrible. Maybe he was trying to make himself unrecognisable – that would explain the wig, anyway.

I could go on, but I won't. You get the picture. I'd be very interested to know if this was the "vision" Uwe Boll actually had for the film. Was it fucked up in editing? Was it dicked about by studio executives? Had they gone over-budget or over-time? There are too many flaws for this to really represent an intended finished product. Credit where it's due – some of the camerawork isn't too bad (it's a damn sight better than in House of the Dead, let me tell you), and Olaf Ittenbach's special effects are gory, bloody fun, but the performances (especially that of Kristanna Loken as Rayne – "Mr Director, what's my motivation?" "Be plankton…") are woefully poor, a twelve year old with a congenital brain defect could write a better script, and the basic plot nonsensically trite to the point of inducing vomiting. I can't believe that a movie that tanked so spectacularly on screen and on DVD is generating a sequel. No, really.

Sorry Mr Boll, but you had your chance. I won't be viewing any more of Uwe Boll's films, not even if I were invited to the world premiere, the world premiere was on Mars, and the invitation was delivered to me clenched in the teeth of Angelina Jolie, and she was crawling towards me on all fours with thousand dollar bills in her cleavage.
Well, I spent the entire film wishing the screen would just go black, but to be fair, I thought the anamorphic 1.78:1 presentation was fine, although the colour palette seemed quite muted – not a lot of bright colours going on here.
A crisp 5.1 track, and again, no complaints, apart from having to listen to the dialogue itself…
Extra Features
Well, there's a CGI "making of", if you're interested in such things – I'm not, personally, being a child of the 70s and thus a fan of prosthetic make up. This seemed like a bit of a "tacked on" feature to these admittedly rather tired eyes. Actually, it's more accurately a sort of before and after kind of affair – y'know: this is what it really looked like, and this is what it looked like after we digitally tinkered with it. Then we get "Dinner With Uwe Boll," which is kind of interesting; Uwe chowing down with friends and talking about why he makes movies in the US and he states some very astute and pragmatic views about making genre film in an English language milieu – helps you to understand the practical, business-like way he approaches film-making. He comes across as a fella who loves film and knows he has to play the game in order to make them. He seems quite self aware, savvy, perceptive and articulate – his discussions about past films and future productions are especially illuminating. There are some storyboards for the hard-core fans, as well as the theatrical trailer – never seen these latter as being too "special" a feature, in that you actually have the whole film to watch – what is so special about an ad? I always watch any film that has a commentary track with said track; despite the fact they're often a mixed bag of trivia for trainspotters and anoraks, virulent and vituperative attacks on those who have no right of reply, nostalgic reminiscing, or as in this case, anecdotal, but not really adding anything to the whole experience. Oh, and with this version, you get a bonus disc with the PC version of the BloodRayne 2 video game; much more entertaining than the film.
The Verdict
At the risk of repeating myself, I would avoid this film entirely. It has absolutely nothing to recommend itself. This is the kind of horror film that makes me embarrassed to be a horror fan. On the other hand, if you are the kind of person who enjoyed Underworld, Van Helsing und so weiter, maybe it'll be your kind of thing. It certainly wasn't mine.
Movie Score
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