“From the producers of Underworld” touts Blood and Chocolate‘s poster, announcing the lame creative bootlegging to follow. Between its Eastern-European setting, grayed-out hues, reconfigured monster mythos, and narrative about an ass-kicking supernatural femme and her complicated relationship with an ordinary human, this adolescent-courting werewolf film takes innumerable cues from Len Wiseman’s 2003 hit, though its clumsy stabs at allegorizing lycanthropy for social and sexual liberation also owes a debt to (among others) the infinitely superior Ginger Snaps.
In Bucharest, American expat Vivian (Agnes Bruckner) falls for a graphic novelist named Aiden (Hugh Dancy) who’s working on a project about a revered race of ancient shapeshifters—a convenient interest, given that Vivian herself is one of these creatures, and in fact rumored to be a prophesied figure who’ll lead her pack into a new Age of Hope. Director Katja von Garnier, on the other hand, is hopelessly incapable of rescuing her tale (adapted from Annette Curtis Klause’s young adult novel) from its teen paperback romance roots, as Vivian’s conflict between personal desire and familial loyalty—the latter embodied by leader/husband-to-be Gabriel (Olivier Martinez), who decries men with bon mots such as “Men. More like menace”—is the stuff of clichéd legend.
The film’s idea of cleverness is having a clueless Aiden teach Vivian about werewolf lore, while its action consists of having shirtless Eurotrash hunks (wearing scary contact lenses) make their lupine transformations in mid-hunt via slow-motion swan dives accompanied by shining white light. Irrespective of faithfulness to its source material, the decision to have Vivian and her mates change into snarling four-legged wolves rather than traditional man-beast hybrids seems at least partially the result of cost-related CG stinginess, an impression furthered by the movie’s pervasively generic, tossed-off quality. Still, by having Aiden combat his werewolf adversaries with burned film ashes (lethal because they’re ripe with silver nitrate!), the derivative and dim-witted Blood and Chocolate at least provides a practical metaphor for its own detrimental impact on cinema culture.