Blood & Chocolate (2007) Review

Blood & Chocolate (2007) Review
Blood & Chocolate (2007) Review 1
Blood & Chocolate (2007)
Director(s): Katja von Garnier
Actor(s): Agnes Bruckner, Hugh Dancy, Olivier Martinez
Running Time: 98 min
| January 26, 2007

The marketing proudly proclaims that this is “from the producers of Underworld”, like that’s supposed to be symbolic of quality. You know what else was from the producers of Underworld: Underworld. And do you know what else they’ve been responsible for lately? The Nancy-boy hair gel warlock flick The Covenant, a film that made the original Bewitched look like a documentary about the life of the modern Pagan. (Incidentally, both The Covenant and Underworld: Evolution made my worst of 2006 list.) So going into Blood & Chocolate, neither hopes nor expectations were very high. But quality direction from Katja von Garnier proves key in elevating this werewolf romance from plodding to passable.

In a prologue, we meet a young girl named Vivian who lives in a cabin in the Colorado Rockies. She becomes the sole survivor when a group of hunters kill her parents and two older brothers. We learn why as we catch-up to Vivian (Agnes Bruckner) as a twenty-something American ex-pat living in Romania. Secretly, Romania is home to a secret society of werewolves led by the charismatic Gabriel (Oliver Martinez). Every seven years, Gabriel chooses a new wife from the pack and Vivian’s on the short list. But like the typical rebel, Vivian doesn’t think she wants to end up Gabriel’s seven year itch and instead begins to date another ex-pat named Aiden (Hugh Dancy), who’s studying Romania’s werewolf legends for a graphic novel.

Much to the credit of von Garnier and screenwriters Ehren Kruger and Christopher Landon, the romance between Vivian and Aiden feels real and not as stagnant as the one between Selene and Michael in Underworld. In other words, you can tell that there’s a romance between these characters with real caring and real feelings. Another appreciative factor worked into the screenplay is that Aiden is not cast as a typical girlie man, but as someone who is willing to fight back and is even a little proactive. Although I think they might have taken it a little too far, since Aiden looks like Rambo, or at the very least Rob Schneider in Judge Dredd. Leaps of logic aside, I appreciated von Garnier’s decision to use real wolves over some crappy looking prosthetics or CGI.

The first half of the movie was pretty strong as it laid out the set-up, the characters and the mythology, but unfortunately when Aiden learns of Vivian’s hairy secret the whole thing starts to degenerate into typical action-horror trash. Aiden predictably reacts badly when he finds out, which of course plays into Vivian’s own fears. Gabriel naturally goes off the deep end since his presumptive new wife is making eyes at another guy who may or may not know the secrets of the pride and obviously Vivian comes to his defence on the brink of his untimely hunter-prey style execution by the pack. The whole thing just turned horribly clichéd and I haven’t even made mention of certain prophecies.

Regardless of narrative concerns, Blood & Chocolate is actually a fairly decent gothic romance that should provide significant distraction to the January blahs if you’re so inclined to such a condition. While this modest success won’t make me take back any previous statements or guarantee a moratorium on stylist jokes and The Covenant in the future, the producers of Underworld are redeemed somewhat. I eagerly await their next film, may I suggest something with leprechauns and lucky charms.

Final Thoughts

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