Directed by Uwe Boll. Starring Kristanna Loken, Michelle Rodriguez, Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Matthew Davis, Billy Zane, Will Sanderson, Udo Kier, Meat Loaf, Michael Paré, Geraldine Chaplin. (2006, R, 94 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Jan. 6, 2006
The controversial film director Boll has delivered another in his dubious string of video-game-to-movie adaptations (see House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark for further reference if you must). Boll has earned his reputation as a modern-day Ed Wood with his inept but driven filmmaking, although the comparisons end there as Boll’s abilities as a producer and fundraiser far exceed the quality of his finished product. The reigning theory regarding this has to do with the German tax system, which reportedly allows full deductions for film investment losses – making Uwe Boll films blue-chip investments. Mismatched shots, incoherent action, bargain-basement sets and costumes, unfocused performances: All are consistent hallmarks of this German auteur. BloodRayne, the story of the titular half-human/half-vampire woman who’s bent on revenge against the vampire king who defiled her mother, is no different. However, BloodRayne does stand out for its collection of acting "names" who appear in this historical fantasy (most startlingly, Ben Kingsley), and a script by Guinevere Turner (the actress/writer who’s more commonly associated with the films Go Fish, American Psycho, the upcoming Notorious Bettie Page, and the TV show The L Word, than with video-game makeovers). Amazingly, I saw BloodRayne at its world premiere this fall at the Austin Film Festival – the one that focuses on honoring screenwriters. Turner was nowhere in sight, although Boll and his frequently cast actor Sanderson were. As the vengeance-driven Rayne, Loken has the look of a warrior princess down cold, although her acting prowess lacks … shall we say, direction? After breaking away from the circus she falls in with the Brimstone Society (Madsen, Rodriguez, and Davis are the leaders), who are determined to kill the vampire king Kagan (Kingsley). Showing up for odd cameos along the way are Chaplin, Zane, and Meat Loaf. Maybe everyone involved was hoping that no one would see this movie, but Madsen is the only one who should fear anyone seeing his work. The Tarantino regular here appears bloated, hungover, and barely there. Not to start false rumors, but his handlers ought to check whether Madsen was even "of sound mind" when he signed on the dotted line. Never has an actor looked this dissipated on film. I’m not sure what Boll sees when he looks through the director’s lens while filming each of his pictures, but I’m certain it’s something different than what the rest of us see. BloodRayne poses no threat to his reputation.