Review: “Bloodrayne”

If there’s one thing you can give Uwe Boll credit for, is that he is improving. The cinematic equivalent of genocide that was “House of the Dead” lead through to the severe case of syphilis which was “Alone in the Dark”. Those films were so bad though, there was at least a camp value to be had when one was highly drunk or stoned. ‘Rayne’ is a better made film to be sure, but is just plain bad in many ways that much of the camp value has gone.

Whilst ‘Alone’ tried to cram way too many elements into one story, ‘Rayne’ is the opposite with very little going on in the way of extras – lots of forgettable characters come and go throughout the choppily edited film and yet the storyline is very basic and bland. Set in 18th century Romania, which we can tell by there being lots of grass fields and ruins, half-vamp Rayne (a good looking, bustier-wearing Kristanna Loken) joins up with three vampire hunters to head out and kill her father – the vampire King who raped and murdered her mother.

That’s about it for story. Like a video game, much of the film that follows feels like a series of vignettes with the defeat of a big bad guy at the end of each scene in order to move to the next level. One of the few ways to enjoy the film is to look out for the multitude of celebrity cameos which include Billy Zane pouting, Geraldine Chaplin as a gypsy fortuneteller, and even Meat Loaf as a rich vamp lord with a harem of blood suckers.

These brief appearances at least take away attention from the woeful performances of the leads including the likes of Michelle Rodriguez and Matt Davis who both seem bored to tears, Ben Kingsley continuing his every sinking descent into terrible D-movie villain territory (“A Sound of Thunder” and “Thunderbirds” weren’t bad enough?), and a long-haired Michael Madsen who’s obviously on so much sauce that you’ll be reaching for the bottle by the time the film’s over. Funnily enough its Loken who comes out best because at least she seems to be trying to add some layers to her bland character.

None of them are helped by either Guinevere Turner’s script or Boll’s direction which is essentially a mess, albeit one that makes more sense than usual for a Boll film. With little in the way of an interesting plot, the film becomes a mish mash of action scenes with ubiquitous gory blood sprays and various poor CG-enhanced vampires hissing. From a tits out sex scene against a jail cell door, to the standard sword fights galore between buddies and rivals, its all generic and badly filmed – betraying both the lack of budget (which seemed to go on all the sets and/or cast) and lack of real passion on Boll’s part.

Yet surprisingly there’s the odd element that works. Some of Loken’s quieter scenes are awful (especially early on), but there’s a few midway which come out half decent. Boll manages to film an underwater action scene with a decent amount of gusto and technical impressiveness. Whilst the dialogue is often bland and blunt, its far less cringe-worthy than you’d expect. Still, there’s no visible reason why schill like this gets a theatrical release – even woeful flicks like “Underworld: Evolution” display much more technical and filmmaking ability than anything demonstrated here. At the rate Boll’s improving, he’ll achieve a film worthy of a thumbs up rating sometime late next decade.