Blood And Chocolate Review
"From the producers of Underworld", boasts the poster for Blood And Chocolate, implying that we're in for more of the same. That does seem to have been the idea all right. Though it's based on an original novel, Blood And Chocolate is obviously inspired by the Underworld films. It shares the East European locations, the concept of an ancient race of supernatural beings living in secret among us and the central plot of a supernatural female falling in love with a human male.
The heroine is Vivian (Agnes Bruckner), an American ex-pat living in Bucharest in Romania as part of a clandestine community. This community, or pack, represents the last remnants of the "loups-garoux" (pronounced loogaroo), a race of shape-shifters who are part humans, part wolves and who inspired the werewolf legend. They once ruled Romania before they were all but wiped out by humans and the survivors elected to keep their abilities quiet.
Vivian isn't comfortable with her identity. She doesn't get on very well with the others in her pack and she resents that she's soon expected to become the "mate" of its leader, Gabriel (Olivier Martinez). She doesn't care much for humans either though, since her family was slaughtered by fearful neighbours when she was a child.
Then she meets American tourist Aiden (Hugh Dancy), an artist researching a graphic novel he's going to write about the legendary loups-garoux. She falls for him, in the process upsetting the rest of the pack and endangering both herself and her human lover.
I like this sort of stuff more than most people. I liked the Underworld films. I even liked The Covenant up to a point. Films like this are more entertaining to me than the minimalist ghost stories and slashers that dominate the horror genre. I appreciate when screenwriters go to the bother of inventing a whole mythology, no matter how silly it might be. I like the rivalries and the treacheries and the portentous dialogue about traditions and prophecies. And I enjoy gothic horror.
Unfortunately, while Blood And Chocolate has all of this, it's a sloppy entry in the genre. Its mythology is nicked almost entirely from other films - not just Underworld but Blade, Wolfen, The Howling, The Lost Boys. There's a small group of rebellious young loups-garoux that I think is supposed to be like Kiefer Sutherland's gang from The Lost Boys. However, as played by foppish English actors like Bryan Dick, they seem more like a bunch of loud students and they make poor villains.
This is a cheap-looking film compared to Underworld, lacking the big-budget visuals that made Len Wiseman's movies fun to watch. There are none of the gothic costumes and sets; there are no big action scenes. The special effects are limited to very brief and unimpressive shots of people morphing into wolves.
The film uses real wolves, which I suppose is preferable to unconvincing CGI ones. The trouble is, onscreen at least, wolves are not very scary or threatening, in fact they're rather beautiful creatures. During the scenes in which they attack people and other wolves, I was more concerned about the animals getting hurt than what happened in the film. Blood And Chocolate's 12A / PG-13 rating means the wolf attacks aren't much cop anyway. There's more chocolate than blood in this film.
German director Katja von Garnier works up precious little tension and she fails to milk much atmosphere from the Bucharest locations. The city looks attractive rather than menacing. At times, this seems more like a tourist commercial than a werewolf film, especially in the romantic interlude. Of the cast, Olivier Martinez and Katja Riemann ham it up decently enough as the senior loups-garoux but the younger actors are hopeless.