Blood & Chocolate (2007)

Blood & Chocolate review!Starring Agnes Bruckner, Hugh Dancy, Olivier Martinez

Directed by Katja von Garnier

It’s all a lie. Everything you’ve ever been told about Lycanthropes, or as they are commonly called, “werewolves”, is a bastardization of facts so some Anglo book publishers could make more money. Meanwhile, what happens when humans read these fairy tales?? I’ll tell you what. The persecution, hunting, and eventual slaughter of innocent Lupine-Americans!! Who can blame them when they protect themselves!? This movie is dedicated to the blameless Luperican shot down in London, England when he was just trying to find something to eat. This movie is dedicated to those harmless woodland Lycans who were blown to pieces after a home invasion in Scotland. Most importantly, this movie is dedicated to those furry friends whose entire colony burned to death at their woodland retreat, all because a newswoman couldn’t find it in her heart to show some compassion for those of us who have emotional problems to overcome. Shame. Never again!

The best part is right now, you think this has nothing to do with the review. Just craaaazy Nomad. Heh. Let me tell you a little story about the Loup-Garoux (pronounced “loo garoo” … which just makes it funnier.) The Loup-Garoux can transform themselves into wolves at any time they wish or, in the case of this film, when they jump through the air in slow motion, as if this were the Cirque De Soleil interpretation of The Howling. These real life werewolves do not turn into giant monstrous half-man/half-beast things, or even long snouted dingo hyena monsters from New Zeland. In a shimmer of light, the Loup-Garoux turn into wolves. Just … wolves.

Blood & Chocolate review (click to see it bigger)!Now granted, I’m a horror guy, but you’ll have to give me the fact that Blood & Chocolate has been pushed to the horror community for some time now, so my first question will always be “Where’s the horror?” No horror here. Blood & Chocolate is the tale of Vivian (Bruckner), a beautiful young woman who inexplicably likes to jump off walls as she goes on her daily run. Vivian is torn between her obligations to her family, who shelter her from a world that would destroy her if they knew what she was, and her desire to roam freely across the globe. For now she is content to run the old worldy streets of Romania and work in her family’s chocolate shop, all the while suppressing her true predatory nature. Vivian meets Aiden (Dancy), a comic artist traveling the world to flee the ghosts of his past. Instantly they feel they are kindred souls, but Vivian’s family has other plans. This is that age old tale of ill fated love, the struggle between desire and duty, and the persecution of people who are a little different … with wolves. This would probably work as a musical.

As the gods of irony would have it, “transformation” is the word of the day, kiddies. Blood & Chocolate starts out as a horror movie as we watch Vivian confront her cousin Rafe (Bryan Dick), who leads his pack of European boy band flunkies from the depths of an interpretive dance Goth club to the streets of Bucharest to strike fear into the hearts of women who know not of underwear. When Vivian becomes entangled with Aiden, the music shifts from dark and moody to top 20 rock as we watch the two fall in love as if in an MTV video, complete with images of the two running and laughing. The love story cannot last as Vivian’s family obligations tear her away from Aiden as he screams, “If you ever gave a damn about me, you would have left me before you met me!!” Ok, maybe a little bit of horror there, but not intended. The film then seems to be sliding slowly back into the horror category as Aiden flees the jaws of Vivian’s family, holding his own even though he’s just a human, but then takes a hard right turn into action movie as Vivian and Aiden both do their share of ass kicking, gun fights ensue, and things blow up. Blood & Chocolate seems to be a movie without an identity.

Blood & Chocolate review (click to see it bigger)!Those of you that don’t know me are now assuming I hated the movie. Not the case. Despite some horrid dialogue and a plot that loses focus many times, the actors do a stellar job of engaging you. I couldn’t help but like Rafe even though his character lacked any depth. I tried my hardest to laugh at the bounding Vivian, but her standoffishness was actually believable. I reeeaaaaally wanted to rip apart Aiden, your stereotypical tortured artist, but the guy gave off a vulnerability I bought into. The character Gabriel (Olivier Martinez) comes off more like a mob boss than werewolf clan leader as he spits out his lines with an accent so thick at times I challenge you to know what the hell he just said.

The bottom line? This is a chick horror flick!! Now before I get lots of FemmeNazi hate mail, I’m going to say that women in the horror industry, as well as women horror fans in general, are fucking EVERYWHERE and are often more rabid about the genre than the men, so no disrespect intended. Hell, I love the movie Notting Hill. Shoot me. This is just not your typical horror film at all. It’s more like a horror film created for women who cried while watching Romeo + Juliet with Leo and Claire. The film is beautifully shot with music that fits each moment very well, save those music video moments I mentioned earlier that just seemed out of place. Clan members lower their heads and bare their necks before their leader, mirroring the actions of wolves giving respect to the alpha male of their pack, adding to that air of fairy tale lore begging for life all the more. It’s almost charming. I get the feeling teen girls and sorority type women are going to love this movie. They probably should have marketed it to them! Shame they probably won’t give it a chance now.

Blood & Chocolate review (click to see it bigger)!Blood & Chocolate suffers from two main ailments. The first is marketing as the film has been pushed to death on the horror crowd, who have pretty much already decided this will NOT be a kickass, throat-tearing werewolf film. In fact, the only blood in this film was what little we see on the main characters when they got into scrapes fleeing Vivian’s kin, so we all got it right. The second is not picking a focus and sticking to it. This could have been a full-on love story if we cared about the characters a little more and weren’t interrupted with nonsense about prophesy. This also could have been a decent action film had the pace not been stifled by the musical interlude where Vivian and Aiden frolic together. This could never be a straight-up horror movie as frankly, wolves are pretty, not scary. They are more romantic than anything, at least to me. Is that odd? A horror writer saying a movie would have been better as a romantic fairy tale rather than adding snarling bestial werewolves eating people’s intestines? Go figure.

Blood & Chocolate is a dark, moody fairy tale set in modern day, perfect for a date with that special someone who doesn’t want to be subjected to the usual gore overkill we’ve been treated to in the past couple of years from the biggest horror titles. This is an experiment in storytelling I only hope gets further explored by filmmakers who will take the idea a few steps further. Though this isn’t the no holds barred werewolf epic we’ve been waiting for, it’s nice to see something new on the screen for a change.

3 out of 5

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Jon Condit