”Bloodrayne” has everything a low budget gothic film should: a second level director, a curvaceous lead actress willing to shed her clothes and engage in sex scenes which add value to the international markets but nothing to the storyline, an Oscar nominee or winner (in this case, Ben Kingsley) who is probably slumming because his summer house needs a new sun deck, a group of actors (Billy, Zane, Michael Madsen, Matt Davis, Michelle Rodriguez) who are above the B-list but aren’t quite A-list either, another group of actors (Michael Pare, Meat Loaf) who are cast strictly for their kitschy cult quotient (I actually heard someone near me say “Oooo! Udo Kier!” upon the first appearance of the semi-legendary actor), Eastern European locations intended to give off some kind of faux-Medieval flavor, cheap CG effects that aren’t very special, a veritable cornucopia of helicopter shots of people riding horses across sweeping vistas, and several battles featuring dozens of warriors swinging swords and firing arrows at each other, with much bloodletting ensuing. Liberally adapted from a videogame by “American Psycho” scribe Guinevere Turner, “Bloodrayne” tells the exploits of Rayne (Kristanna Loken), a “dhampir” (one who is half-human and half-vampire), determined to kill Kagan (Mr. Kingsley), the meanest S.O.B. vampire in the land, and the man who just happens to be both the ruler of that territory and Rayne’s father. (How a vampire was able to impregnate a human is never explained.) Meanwhile, two vampire hunters, Vladimir (Mr. Madsen) and Sebastian (Mr. Davis) ride the countryside with their trusty sidekick Katarin (Ms. Rodriguez, who affects the worst British accent in recent cinematic history), determined to stop Kagan from gaining possession of a group of talismans, created from the body parts of a legendary vampire who was massacred and dismembered many centuries before, which when combined would give the possessor unlimited power.
”Bloodrayne” should give less discriminating movie fans a good fill of action, but let’s be realistic here: a movie like “Bloodrayne” isn’t meant to be compared to the likes of “The Terminator” or “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Films like this are meant to fill a niche, once lovingly referred to as exploitation or grindhouse films. It’s meant to be stupid fun, although sadly in “Bloodrayne’s” case, the stupidity far outweighs the fun. At least Boll hired a screenwriter who had some industry credibility, one who attempted to create a real story. Mathias Neumann’s cinematography is quite even (an improvement over his work in “House of the Dead” and “Alone in the Dark,” I am told), although the sound mix leaves much of the dialogue unintelligible (which probably didn’t matter all that much in the first place).
I can’t speak for other people’s hatred of Uwe Boll, but his work here shows him to be better than Ed Wood, although he is leaps and bounds away from being a true hack director like Peter Hyams or Renny Harlin. Keep plugging away, Mr. Boll, and someday you might even get a few accolades.Rating: D+