Has anything good ever come out of the movies-based-on-videogames subgenre? Is Uwe Boll’s reputation as the man who does for cinema what Jack the Ripper did for escort agencies actually deserved? To try to answer these two questions, I watched ‘Bloodrayne’.
Fuck my life.
The answer I’ve arrived at regarding the first question is: only if you’re a thirteen year old boy and the idea of Lara Croft being incarnated by Angelina Jolie, Alice from the ‘Resident Evil’ games by Milla Jovovich or Bloodrayne by Kristanna Lokken is enough to give you a stiffy without even watching a single frame of the resulting productions. Let’s face it, only a thirteen year old boy besieged by hormones and obsessed with video games could possibly feel any stirring of excitement over these largely sexless opuses.
So kudos to Uwe Boll for at least putting one sex scene in ‘Bloodrayne’, even if it is utterly joyless and perfunctory.
Are any more kudos due to our much-hated German director? Well, let’s spend a little time with the movie and attempt an answer.
‘Bloodrayne’ is about a vampire called Rayne (Lokken) who is first introduced in captivity, being paraded as a sideshow freak. Um. No. Let’s back up a tad. Rayne is sort-of vampire. A damphyr (I’m guessing at the spelling) – in other words, a product of a vampire/human union. The union in question being the rape of her mother by sadistic patriarchal vampire Kagan (Ben Kingsley).
Yes. Ben Kingsley. Sir Ben Kingsley. The guy who played Gandhi. In a Uwe Boll film.
Fuck my life part two.
Anyway, Rayne’s out for some payback against Kagan, while Kagan is more concerned with protecting his fiefdom against the ministrations of the Brimstone Society. This organisation is headed up by Vladimir (Michael Madsen), a man who comes across as a somewhat podgy Van Helsing with a haircut redolent of Bon Jovi circa 1986. Vlad’s retinue include Sebastian (Matthew Davis) and Katarin (Michelle Rodriguez). Katarin’s loyalties to the Brimstone Society are compromised by her relationship with her manipulative father Elrich (Billy Zane).
Vladimir and his team are seeking to destroy Kagan, Elrich has his own agenda, and all of the various parties have a vested interest in Rayne. Despite an attraction to Sebastian, Rayne’s own agenda – the simple, powerful and unambiguous desire for vengeance – dictates her choices, and she embarks on a quest for three talismanic items guaranteed to vouchsafe her an audience with Kagan. The risk is considerable, however, since to reunite the purposefully scattered talismans could provide Kagan with his passport to true immortality and absolutely power.
All of which sounds promising, ja? Vampires, vampire hunters, court intrigue, Machiavellian power plays … throw in swordplay, explosions, nudity and intense people galloping full tilt across rugged landscapes on horses, compress it all into a 90 minute running time and surely this has got to emerge as some kind of ballsy, fast-paced guilty pleasures and never mind the 2.8 IMDb rating. I mean, surely?
‘Bloodrayne’ is quite frankly dull. Boll clearly has no idea about pacing, characterization or simply engaging with his audience on even the most basic level. Some of the blame has to be laid at the door of screenwriter Guinevere Turner – virtually every line of dialogue is stilted and unconvincing. Not that Boll (yup, we’re back to the main offender) even tries to get more than the most lackadaisical line reading out of his cast. And anything approaching an actual performance – fuhgeddaboutit! Lokken, not the greatest thespian talent to begin with, handles the swordplay decently and looks hot in a leather waistcoat, but remains a bland heroine. Madsen is embarrassingly miscast. Rodriguez, always one of my favourite tough gals in the movies, looks cool but is given sod all to work with. Only Meat Loaf – deliberately hamming it up as a dissipated nobleman …
… and Billy Zane, who tosses off his few scenes with all the glib sarcasm the production deserves, emerge as memorable. It is better that we do not speak of Ben Kingsley. I will assume he had severe gambling debts, desperately needed the work, and not speak of his involvement in an Uwe Boll film again.
Every aspect of the film is perfunctory, as if Boll had a checklist that read: hot chicks, swashbuckling, neck-biting, crossbows, tits, blood; and randomly threw one or more of these elements into whatever scene he was currently filming. As a result, what should be trashy is tedious. What should be exploitative ends up an exercise in ennui. What should be a blood-drenched, decadent hour and a half seems to last twice as long. No joke, I can’t remember looking at my watch this often during any film I’ve seen in the past few years. Nor did I hit pause so many times to slope off for a pee, pour another drink, make some toast, watch cars passing on the street below or check Facebook. Somebody had posted a picture of their Christmas tree. It made for more entertaining viewing.