Of the four Uwe Boll films I’ve seen, I think that this might be the worst. It’s stiff competition, for sure, but there’s something extra inept, amateurish, misguided, and unappealing about BloodRayne. All of Boll’s staples are here from inexplicably unnatural dialogue to incredibly dull performances to incomprehensible action scenes to flat cinematography, it’s all here, but the “story” of BloodRayne, an attempt at epic fantasy, is so overstuffed and undercooked by design that it’s kind of unbelievable.
There’s so much to rag on here, but I want to focus the few precious minutes of my life I’m going to dedicate to thinking about what I hope to be the last Uwe Boll film I ever see on his complete inability to build a single character.
Boll seems to believe that character traits, in his head and not actually on display in the film, are all you need. He doesn’t need to show characters as brave, or strong, or loyal to someone, or villainous, or anything else. He just needs to explain it through a single line of dialogue and then the audience has all of the information they need. So, if one character calls another “brave”, then that’s all we’re going to get in terms of the character’s bravery. This manifests most frustratingly around the character of Katarin, played by Michelle Rodriguez. Katarin is described as loyal, but we never actually see her as so, so when she ends up betraying her friends and the protagonist, Rayne, it’s not shocking. In fact, it leaves no impression whatsoever because Katarin was never a character but just a human shaped thing that spouted exposition from time to time. Her betrayal means nothing because Katarin isn’t a character. She’s so poorly drawn that her major act feels like nothing.
This extends to every single character in the movie. From Rayne herself, whos’ described as several things but never really manifests them, to Vladimir, played by Michael Madsen (obviously drunk and uncaring), to Kagan, played by Ben Kingsley who occasionally looks like he’s alive as he flatly delivers lines.
Moving on a bit, the world building in this fantasy epic is laughably bad. In fact, I have no idea how this world of vampires versus the world is supposed to work. There’s a vampire kingdom, and a hidden anti-vampire resistance, and nothing in between. It sounds like vampires have the upper hand, but the way Kagan’s plot is described it sounds like vampires are in the shadows (metaphorically) and will use a series of talismans to bring about world domination. Very little thought seemed to be put into this.
And another thing…any time a fantasy movie calls its magical items “talismans”, I role my eyes. It’s a weirdly tinny and awkward word. It’s not that the idea of a talisman is weird (the Ring in The Lord of the Rings is technically a talisman), but the literal use of the word in dialogue. It shows me laziness.
I have to touch on one more thing before I wrap up this exercise in masochism. There’s a scene early when Rayne finds one of the several talismans (the eye of…someone). She arrives at a monastery, gets free reign of the place, wanders into a small hallway with a monster sleeping on a chair at the far end. Now, this hallway is lit with braziers along the columns that line the space, but they don’t actually light anything. It’s obvious that the whole set is lit from large electronic lights above. Instead of giving the scene a horror-like feel with bare, sourced lighting that can have the added side effect of hiding some of the dodgy makeup on the monster, everything’s clear as day, undermining any source of horror-based tension.
Literally everything about this movie is laughably bad. From the lighting to the acting to the writing to the action, everything is bad. Hell, the sex scene has Rayne accidentally opening and closing a jail cell door repeatedly, and it’s just left in, including the sound effects that were captured on set. It’s a testament to Boll’s skills as a conman that he got money for this movie at all, much less roping in someone like Ben Kingsley to play the villain. Boll is inept at every aspect of storytelling and filmmaking, and I think I’m done with him.