Less pleasurable than the throbbing bladder pain begat by too much movie theater soda, BloodRayne ably continues Uwe Boll’s indisputable reign as the worst filmmaker on the planet. Once again adapting a video game for the screen, the German director’s latest load of cinematic poo is ever-so-slightly more technically proficient than last year’s Alone in the Dark. But whatever minute newfound skill Boll exhibits behind the camera—and let me be clear, it’s very minute—is predictably offset by his film’s staggeringly incompetent writing, staging, special effects, and performances, the latter of which are so monumentally lethargic and inept that they nearly cry out for “Most Lackluster Ensemble” recognition from SAG. It’s almost too easy to pile on BloodRayne, a pathetic amalgam of Dracula and The Lord of the Rings that boasts not a wisp of an original idea in its gory, D&D-influenced head. And yet the sight of prominent actors (including Academy Award-winner Ben Kingsley!) greedily opting to use their considerable industry clout to help make such incontrovertibly mindless dreck (presumably for a hefty payday) is nothing short of dismaying and disgusting. So let the critical carnage commence.
Set in 18th-century Eastern Europe (a fact provided not by the film, but by its official website), BloodRayne concerns Rayne (T3‘s Kristanna Loken), a fanged, halter top-wearing redhead who, having escaped her life as a mistreated carnival attraction, sets out to kill Kagan (Kingsley), the vampire father who raped her mother years earlier and now seeks to rule the world by acquiring three talismans (a heart, an eye, and a rib bone) that grant invincibility from bloodsucker weaknesses such as crosses, sunlight, and holy water. Since her mommy was a human, Rayne is a legendary type of half-breed known as a dhampir—effectively, she’s Blade with boobies—and given that she only feeds on animals and vampires, she’s a natural ally of the anti-vampire Brimstone society led by Vladimir (Michael Madsen), Sebastian (Matt Davis), and Katarin (Michelle Rodriguez). “Haven’t we wasted enough time with fairy tales?” asks a justifiably annoyed Katarin about the trio’s search for the mythic Rayne. Not according to Boll, who proceeds to employ every plagiaristic fantasy-horror gimmick he can conceive of, from unintelligibly edited Michael Bay-style fight scenes and Matrix-esque slow-motion to aerially photographed shots of horseback riders traversing mountainous countrysides stolen straight from Peter Jackson’s bag of tricks.
Splatterific impalements and dismemberment are slobbered over by Boll’s herky-jerky camera, which also makes sure to capture Davis’s tongue caressing Loken’s nipple in extreme close-up during Sebastian’s impromptu lesson to Rayne on how to screw like a human. But BloodRayne‘s unintentional comedy predominantly stems less from Boll’s directorial tendencies—which are, more often than not, simply dull and derivative—than from his slumming cast’s blatant indifference toward the dim-witted proceedings. Seemingly destined to deliver excessive camp from the moment its credit sequence lists the names Meat Loaf, Udo Kier, and Billy Zane, the film’s funniness is instead mostly thanks to the supermodel-ish Loken’s surprisingly graceless physicality, Kingsley’s near-immobile woodenness (with the actor barely moving a facial muscle or blinking until his third scene), and Madsen’s unconcealed disinterest. The Reservoir Dogs alum, in particular, is a marvel of laziness, exuding palpable apathy with his every gruff, monotone word (delivered without accent, just to heighten the askew period-piece hilarity), and movement (especially during melees in which he can barely be bothered to raise his sword). And as a result, Madsen—by doing little more than acting bored—convincingly functions as his audience’s surrogate.