BloodRayne

When the credits proudly announce “Special Appearance by Billy Zane,” you know you’re in trouble. Zane, however, is actually pretty funny in BloodRayne, a witless action-vampire flick based on a video game. He plays Elrich, some sort of elite vamp who mostly sits in his study and acts snarky. “Would you stop throwing things at me?” he deadpans at a minion who has tossed a scroll and, earlier, a severed head onto his desk. Zane’s dialogue is the only evidence I could find of credited screenwriter Guinevere Turner, who wrote the ’90s lesbian indie film Go Fish and has contributed to Showtime’s The L Word. Well, that and the scene wherein the half-vamp heroine Rayne (Kristanna Loken) seduces a female vampire only to chomp her throat.

BloodRayne is the latest in director Uwe Boll’s ongoing crusade to take horror-oriented video games (House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark were his previous efforts) and suck all the life out of them. I’ve played BloodRayne, and its cut scenes are better than anything in the movie. The plot manages the dubious feat of being both dumb and complicated, like the worst James Bond movies, when all it’s really about is stopping king-shit vampire Kagan (Ben Kingsley) before he can gather three ancient body parts that can make him invulnerable. Kagan (no relation to Fagin, whom Kingsley played in 2005’s Oliver Twist) is essentially The Master from Buffy‘s first season, with the Darth Vader spin of also being Rayne’s father (he raped her human mother). Rayne, for her part, is essentially a distaff Blade, only without the impressive arsenal (she could use a Whistler).

But don’t let the presence of fanged bloodsuckers fool you: BloodRayne is really no more a vampire film than Grandma’s Boy is. It’s a derivative quest film, with Rayne accompanied by a motley crew (Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez, and Matt Davis) as she searches for the elusive items — an eye in a monastery, a heart in a box underwater. As she collects these items, her energy points go up — uh, I mean her powers become greater (she can tolerate water, which once scorched her flesh). Unfortunately, Kristanna Loken’s acting becomes no greater. Then again, Maria Falconetti at her peak couldn’t do much with the lines Loken and everyone else (except Billy Zane) are given, and poor Michelle Rodriguez tries hard to maintain some sort of period-appropriate accent but winds up defaulting to her sullen mode. (She and her Girlfight director Karyn Kusama — who came a cropper with Aeon Flux — need to reunite fast and stop faffing about with dorky girl-power fantasies that are really about giving teen boys a peek.)

This was my first Uwe Boll film — weep now for my lost innocence, please — and he’s every bit as inept as I’d heard. His fight scenes are the worst kind of editing-room cheating, meant to cover for actors who haven’t been trained to wield anything more intimidating than a cell phone. Rayne begins the movie as a carny freak, and her escape from that degrading life is shown in a confusing flashback while she’s escaping. Yeah, it didn’t make sense to me either. Loken’s topless sex scene with Matt Davis — clang, clang against dungeon bars (ooh, how medievally erotic!) — might join Elizabeth Berkley’s Showgirls pool-thrashing in sex-scene infamy. Blood squirts and spurts everywhere, a tribute of sorts to the sanguinary game, only the blood looked more realistic there. Meat Loaf collects a check for a couple of scenes as a vamp libertine; Geraldine Chaplin — whose father Charlie is not, let’s hope, following her career from the afterlife — pops in as a fortune teller who fails to tell Kristanna Loken not to sign on for any more Uwe Boll movies based on video games. As it happens, Loken is due to appear in Boll’s In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale in December 2006. Mark your calendars.

Explore posts in the same categories: action/adventure, horror, one of the year's worst, video game

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