Review: Blood and Chocolate (2007)

Note: This review was originally published in Technician on February 1, 2007.


More Blood, less Chocolate please

Interspecies relationships make for good films.

At least, that's what the studio executive who green-lighted Blood and Chocolate must have thought. And, while the film does has a plot that might sound interesting on paper, the result is a cinematic mess from start to finish that feels like it was written by an angsty teenager caught in the throes of adolescent rebellion fantasies.

The film follows Vivian (Agnes Bruckner), a 19-year-old girl struggling to come to terms with who she is -- namely, a Rugharou, or shape-shifter from French legends. Think werewolf, but with the ability to transform at will, and only into an actual wolf rather than a superhuman hybrid. If you think it's not as scary as a traditional werewolf, you're right.

Vivian is only one from a secret society of Rugharou living in Romania. Desperate to avoid being hunted, the Rugharou kill any human who discovers them and tend to keep to themselves. So, it comes as no surprise that when Vivian falls in love with a human graphic novelist named Aiden (Hugh Dancy), the other Rugharou are less than supportive, opting to kill him before he learns of their secret.

Indeed, hardly anything comes as a surprise in this outing by German director Katja von Garnier. For a werewolf movie, there's very little blood, and the plot is remarkably dull. It feels more like a made-for-television or straight-to-DVD film rather than a full-fledged Hollywood production.

The directing ranges from bad to mediocre. There's only a single scene in the entire film that feels somewhat professionally made, and it's over far too soon.

The acting is exaggerated and unintentionally funny, particularly that of Olivier Martinez, who plays the principal villain. Only Bruckner's performance in the lead role proves tolerable, though it is undermined by inept and uninspired dialogue.

Even the editing is lacking, with instances that had the potential to inspire any sort of emotional response from the viewer being ruined by awkward cuts and over-stylized effects. The opening scene feels more like a trailer than an actual movie scene, with more gratuitous slow-motion shots than John Woo on crack. The film doesn't proceed to get any better. The romance is as sappy as it sounds, and the two lovers lack any sort of chemistry that might make it believable.

The bottom line -- if you're looking for a halfway decent werewolf film with elements of Romeo and Juliet, rent Underworld. Unlike this film, it probably won't be found in the Wal-Mart bargain bin for $2 any time soon.