Horror review: Blood and Chocolate

bloodandchocolate9

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JAN. 31, 2007

The ads for Blood and Chocolate proudly declare that it’s “from the producers of Underworld”, as if that’s something to brag about. Wasn’t that vampires-versus-werewolves flick just a pretentious, noisy excuse to see Kate Beckinsale in tight black leather?

Apart from having scads of springy werewolves pouncing about, the similarities between the two films are few. Blood and Chocolate takes a gentler approach to lycanthropy; it isn’t all jarring blasts of violence, ear-piercing heavy metal, and lightning-fast edits.

Instead, it’s just silly, pointless, and predictable.

The movie kicks off with a lush overhead shot of a young girl, Vivian, twirling joyfully amid falling snowflakes in the Colorado mountains. After she takes part in a friendly snowball fight with her siblings, the idyllic tone changes. Armed men attack, torching the family’s cabin and slaying everyone but the girl, who escapes into the woods. In the final seconds of the opening segment she turns to confront the snarling rottweilers the killers have unleashed, and her eyes project a savage glow. Turns out the little snookums is far more beastly than the vicious mutts.

Ten years later, Vivian is a fetching young woman (The Woods’ Agnes Bruckner) who lives in Romania and works off her feral urges by hotfooting it around Bucharest. There’s an awful lot of sprinting in this movie—it’s a regular Run Lola Run for the fantasy set—and most of it takes place during full moons, when the werewolves of Bucharest gather to hunt a single human under the direction of charismatic pack leader Gabriel (Unfaithful’s hunky Olivier Martinez). While chasing down their desperate prey, they take giant leaps and, through the wonders of cheap special effects, transform into hungry wolves.

Don’t ask me what happens to their clothes.

Vivian incites the wrath of Gabriel when she falls for Aiden (Ella Enchanted’s Hugh Dancy), a graphic novelist who just happens to be in town studying the mythology of human/wolf shape shifters. As expected, their taboo love leads to much growling, teeth-baring, and even more running, and Aiden says stuff like: “If you really did care about me, you would have left me before we even met.”

German indie director Katja von Garnier delivers some sumptuous footage, most of it employing the architectural wonders of Bucharest, but Blood and Chocolate is a mess, storywise. It will leave discriminating fantasy-horror fans wondering why they didn’t just go see Pan’s Labyrinth again instead.

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