Still on a vampire kick, I thought I’d give BloodRayne (2005) another spin… and actually found it a little less painful the second time around. Obviously there’s no way I could ever describe it as a “good” movie… but I don’t think it’s quite as terrible as many of the critics claim. The plot hangs together fairly well, there are some pretty impressive visual FX, and I enjoyed a lot of the blood-splattered fight scenes… it’s just the bland dialogue, dodgy wigs, and lack-lustre line-readings that let it down, as far as I’m concerned.
For those who don’t know, this movie is set in 18th Century Romania, and centres around a “Dhampir” (vampire-human hybrid) named ‘Rayne’, who is sent on a quest to collect a series of magickal relics, which will grant her the power to destroy the evil vampire king, ‘Kagan’… who also happens to be Rayne’s father, having raped (and later killed) her human mother. Along the way she is aided by Brimstone, a society of vampire hunters who are struggling to stay solvent as more and more of their noble patrons are turned, or outright destroyed by their nemesis.
My main focus of interest here was Michelle Rodriguez, who plays ‘Katarin’, a proud Brimstone soldier with a slightly dubious grasp on the concept of “teamwork”. As a long-standing M-Rod admirer, I thought it was fun to see her swinging a sword around and facing down supernatural creatures in the old-timey days… but this isn’t exactly her finest hour, acting-wise. To be fair though, she does give a far more engaging and authentic performance than Sir Ben Kingsley does, and there aren’t many times you can say something like that! He plays the big bad Kagan here, and delivers most of his dialogue in a rapid monotone, as if he were desperate for the toilet, and hoped that running through his lines might take his mind off it. On the commentary it’s claimed that Kingsley’s detachment was a deliberate acting choice, to reflect Kagan’s age and ambivalence towards his own existence… but that smacks of post-mortem rationalisation to me… especially since Michael Madsen is equally disengaged as ‘Vladimir’, Brimstone’s default leader. At least Billy Zane seems to be having fun playing Katarin’s estranged father ‘Elrich’… and if the rest of the movie had been as entertaining as his two brief, campy cameo appearances, then they might have been on to a winner. (Note: His funniest line was an ad-lib). Oh, and Kristanna Loken gives a spirited performance in the lead role, and sounds quite proud of her work on the DVD commentary track… although clearly she didn’t enjoy the experience enough to bother signing up for the two sequels.
Fun fact: The screenplay was written by Guinevere Turner, of American Psycho and The Notorious Bettie Page fame, although she’s since claimed that the director, Uwe Boll, simply accepted her first draft and ran with it. Considering Boll’s rather lacklustre reputation, and the evidence of my own ears and eyeballs, I’m inclined to believe her…