Blood & Chocolate (DVD)
Directed by Katja Von Garnier
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Though the 28 Days of Suck (story here) has passed, the ripples left by the B-movies are starting to pick up again as they crawl from the theatres and onto the DVD racks. The next to be released from that unholy era in 2007 is Blood & Chocolate, an adaptation of Annette Curtis Klause's 1997 young readers novel of the same name. The film was a financial flop during its theatrical release, but how will it fare on DVD?
Not well, sorry to say. A whole day could be spent pointing out the drastic changes from the original source material. The book obviously lacked that European edge the Underworld folks were looking for. Maybe they just wanted to alienate American audiences and fans of the book. That is not to say we Americans cannot enjoy anything outside of the states, but why make it so drastically different? A long list of the things altered between the book and film can be found here. We'll leave the comparisons behind for now and look at the film on its own.
Vivian has been living in Romania with her aunt Astrid since her parents were killed in the U.S. ten years ago. She is also part of one of the few remaining Loup-Garoux (werewolf) packs in the world and is destined to be the leader's new mate in just a few days. Unlike traditional werewolves, this breed may transform at anytime at will. A puff of smoke and they are morphed into regular wolves. Viv does not really seem to care for this heritage, nor does she take part in the nightly hunts in which all of the pack members tear apart unknowing wretched humans. However, she does find hope and happiness from an outside source -- a human comic artist named Aiden. This does not sit well with Gabriel, the pack's leader, and soon Vivian must choose between what is right and what is family.
Blood & Chocolate has several problems. First is the cast. The entire Loup-Garoux gang consists of extremely attractive people between the ages of 18 and 25. They are the only good looking ones in Romania because anyone outside of this group are elderly and quite unsightly. The actors also seem to be an odd mishmash of accents. Astrid and Gabriel have Romanian accents, but their son Rafe sounds like he hails from the U.K.?! Vivian was born in Romania, moved to the U.S. for an unknown number of years, came back to Romania 10 years ago, but retains an American style of speaking. She lived in a secluded cabin in the woods with her Romanian parents, how did she get so American? Things aren't making sense, I'm lost myself. From there things only get worse.
Next we tackle what should have never been a problem -- the human-to-wolf transformation. It is pretty, flashy and a let down for us werewolf fans, but that is only a minor gripe compared to a larger issue. During the transformation, the Loup-Garoux member's clothing vanishes and does not reappear when he/she morphs back into a human. This would mean Romania is a tailor's paradise! One could open up a large chain of Hot Topic stores and never run out of business. Remember, the 20-30 Loup-Garouxs are all in that demographic and each member wears the same tacky outfit that one could find at said store. Not only do the outfits vanish, but for some reason things like jewelry pop back into exitance. Looks like the filmmakers couldn't keep their ideas straight.
Notice how this review hasn't moved onto the actual story yet? Sad. The final gripe before tackling the plot has to do with free-running. This style of urban acrobatics is seen in excess throughout Blood & Chocolate. Each and every time Vivian starts to run, she must always jump up and kick off a wall. A couple times wouldn't be distracting but this happens at an ungodly rate by almost every Loup-Garoux in the film. Each scene containing at least two of them usually results in some sort of ridiculous acrobatic performance that serves no purpose but to add more style to a substance-less film. And that, fiends, brings us to the plot.
Style over substance. That is the easiest way to describe the end result of Blood & Chocolate. It follows the same outcome as The Covenant and Underworld, which were both produced by the same folks responsible for this film: flashy outfits, plenty of pointless musical interludes and lots of painting by numbers. If they wanted to make MySpace: The Musical so badly, why did they cover it up with tame wolves and cheap Euro-trash villains? This film was obviously devoted to a certain type of audience -- the lonely corset wearing women who blog about every single negative thing that happens to them between binging and purging. Or was it targeted for the strange chicks and dudes who wore those cheesy wolf t-shirts?
When Aiden shows up to drown us with Loup-Garoux lore/exposition it is a big tip-off that Vivian is ultimately going to end up with him. She may play hard to get, but it is so unconvincing and this destroys any tension later scenes should bring on. Of course she is going to choose him, the folks in charge don't have the balls to break the romantic mold! It is also pretty amazing that this wayward girl who is just about to become the pack's new Queen Bitch just happens to run into some other wayward soul who knows so much about their kind, is handsome and posses his own dark secrets. Yet, because the filmmakers were so afraid to try anything new Aiden's dark past never really plays into the film and just becomes a piece of trivia.
Vivian's cousin Rafe and her soon to be hubby/uncle Gabriel are so stereotypically evil that it becomes laughable each time they attempt to express anger or incite fear. Gabriel sports the all black wear and beard that all comic book baddies do. Meanwhile Rafe is just bursting with angst and even threatens Aiden with this threat, "I am the train!!!" Sadly he is cut down when Aiden presses a silver medallion on Rafe's chest. So, some Loup-Garoux just need silver to touch their skin and they instantly die? That isn't the way it works later in the film ... Come to think of it, this movie is pretty gore-less. A quick look at the deleted scene of Rafe's death shows that CGI was used to remove a lot of blood around where Aiden's necklace broke the skin. The removal of the blood just aided in making the whole death make less sense. Good job.
In short, the film is nothing special, nothing new and certainly nothing enjoyable. In fact, you know what would have been better than this film? A DVD full of nothingness.
Things aren't quite over yet. Believe it or not this DVD release actually has special features. The first of these are 15, yes 15 deleted scenes. If they had added anything new to the experience of the final film, they would be worth watching. However, many of these scenes are just short clips that extend an existing scene by five seconds or so. They aren't scenes at all. An extra two second look at a couple silver bullets in someone's safe is not a scene. A couple do manage to be longer than a blink of the eye. One involves a drinking duel with Gabriel against Astrid, in which she just drinks shots of absinthe. Wow. Another example would be Astrid's suicide in which she drinks herself to death while indulging in the old green fairy. Thrilling!
The commentary with director Katja Von Garnier and Olivier Martinez (Gabriel) is just boring. It isn't exactly self congratulating, but there is a sense they are proud of this train wreck. Thanks to Garnier we all know that she liked a free-run documentary so much that she wanted to plaster the physical style all over the film. Wall jump here, balcony dive there, roof top leaping here and so on. Martinez doesn't have a lot to say as he more or less just agrees with everything Katja says or adds small side-notes to her comments. It is hard to think anyone who missed the film in theatres would want to own the DVD based on these special features.
Blood & Chocolate should have been relabeled Jump, Bitch, Jump. The acrobatic stunts constantly thrown around through the whole film became distracting, dissolving any sense of immersion and turning the 98 minutes into some sort of circus act. Between the unbelievable romance and a cast of cartoony, over the top villains this movie fails badly. It should have been put down as soon as anyone associated with The Covenant touched it. Blood & Chocolate may work as a romantic film for some folks, but its connection to the horror genre has been seriously neutered.
15(!) Deleted Scenes
Commentary with director, Garnier and actor, Olivier Martinez
Trailers for other 28 Days of Suck contestants!
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
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