Back in the day, I snarkily dismissed Heroes as a superhero show created by people who hated comic books, and were deliberately conspiring to make the genre as boring and bland as possible… in much the same way that the writer/director of Rise: Blood Hunter (2007) seems to hate Fantasy movies, and conspires to suck all of the fun out of vampires. In fact, no one ever actually uses the V-word in the movie itself (although it does appear several times on the DVD cover, hence my assumption)… and that’s probably for the best, because it would be an insult to Dracula’s legacy to call these miserable, mundane creatures “vampires” at all! They’ve been stripped of all their supernatural powers, so they’re little more than bog-standard serial killers and rapists, who happen to drink their victims’ blood (very sloppily). They don’t even have fangs, for f*ck’s sake! Instead they use tiny little daggers to open the veins, before they can get their drink on… even though if would be much more efficient (and tidier) to use some sort of catheter device. Idiots.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so galling if the movie had dispensed with the vampire tropes altogether, but there’s actually a scene where the heroine wants to prove that she’s “not human” anymore, and points out that she has no reflection in the rear-view mirror of a car! Of all the genre conventions to keep in the mix, why pick such an inexplicable and illogical one!? I mean, plenty of animals have fangs for breaking skin… that’s a scientific fact… but, as far as I’m aware, there aren’t any creatures on Earth who are visible to the human eye, but invisible to mirrors! At one point she also claims to have “an overdeveloped sense of smell”, but there’s no real evidence for this, considering the fact that in an earlier scene she couldn’t detect a giant puddle of fresh blood on the floor before she slipped in it! Gah!
I can’t even… I can’t even be bothered trying to summarise the plot, which is basically just a retread of Kill Bill without any of the humour, panache, toe-tapping tunes or kick-ass fight scenes. Is “neo-noir” just another word for deathly boring? It certainly seems like it, if this ill-conceived slog is any example!
But, hey, let’s try to accentuate the positive, shall we? The star of the show, Lucy Liu, acts her heart out here and looks ridiculously beautiful, going well above and beyond the call of duty by appearing topless in several scenes (including one where she’s hanging upside down from a meat hook!). As it happens, Liu’s attracting a lot of “buzz” right now, with a critically acclaimed story arc on Southland, and the announcement that she’ll be playing a female ‘Watson’ in an American take on Sherlock Holmes… which I’m itching to see, as anyone who’s read my previous pontificating on the great detective’s gender bias could probably guess. So, yay her! Meanwhile, Carla Gugino is great as a seductive and strangely sympathetic “vamp” with a girl-crush on Liu’s character… Samaire Armstrong is typically adorable as a short-lived snack… and Cameron Richardson is very winning as a naive prostitute who treats Liu to a sexy striptease in the opening scenes. Which is all well and good, but it takes more than a little gratuitous nudity and lipstick lesbianism to calm my nerd rage over such a lame vampire-lite premise, dammit!