|Blood & Chocolate (2007)
Starring: Agnes Bruckner,
Hugh Dancy, Olivier Martinez, Katja Riemann, Bryan Dick
Director: Katja von Garnier
As we were walking out of the ‘Romeo Human and Juliet Werewolf’ movie “Blood and Chocolate,” my fellow critic friends and I were debating what kind of movie it was. It has a horror element, but isn’t scary. It has a forbidden-love subplot, but is rather sexless. Then our resident bookworm told us that the source material on which the movie is based is a teen lit book by Annette Curtis Klause, and suddenly it all made sense. Of course it’s based on a teen lit story. That explains why the violence and language are toned down, and why the sexuality is downplayed. At the same time, the movie fails as teen lit as well, since it doesn’t have an ounce of passion, angst, or hormones run amuck. In other words, it lacks the very things that define every teen romance in the history of teen romance. They’re like Stepford werewolves, a concept that is actually far scarier than anything you’ll find here.
Agnes Brucker stars as Vivian, an American teenager living with her aunt in Bucharest after her family was viciously slaughtered when she was a child. Vivian’s meets cute with American Aiden (Hugh Dancy), a graphic novelist who’s studying up on the legend of the loup garoux, a group of shape-shifting werewolf people. What Aiden doesn’t realize is that Vivian is one of those shape-shifters, and she is putting his life in danger by even speaking to him, never mind dating him. The leader of the pack, as it were, Gabriel (Olivier Martinez), distrusts the humans, ever fearful that they will learn that the loup garoux still exist and will want to extinguish them for good. Aiden is viewed as a threat, and Vivian must choose between protecting her family and the man she loves.
Perhaps the most maddening thing about “Blood and Chocolate” is that it wasn’t a bad movie in the way that most movies are bad. The acting was decent enough, if a tad underplayed. The dialogue didn’t trip over itself, though someone will have to explain the logic behind Aiden’s declaration that if Vivian cared about him at all, “you would have ended it before we met.” It even looks decent, with the high-jumping wire work you would expect from people who can morph into werewolves at a moment’s notice (though the werewolves’ tendency to bounce off the sides of buildings was perplexing). The whole thing just…passes by, and leaves you feeling neither fearful nor anxious or brimming with anticipation. And we haven’t even discussed Gabriel’s rule that he take a bride every seven years in order to maintain the bloodline. One of his previous brides was Vivian’s aunt, and now he claims that Vivian’s turn is next, which means, yep, Vivian is betrothed to marry her uncle. Yuck.
Lastly, as an aside, I must discuss one rather curious soundtrack decision. During a scene where Vivian takes Aiden to see the best view of the city, one which involves ducking out of the way of security cameras, they cue up…”Cash Machine,” by Hard-Fi. Now, I like Hard-Fi as much as the next guy, but that song just doesn’t make any sense in that context, and I soon realized that I wasn’t the only one questioning their choice of song. A few seconds later, Jason Zingale, sitting to my right, leaned over and said, “What does this song have to do with anything?” I said, “I have no idea.” Seconds after that, Kristin Dreyer Kramer of Nights and Weekends, sitting to my left, leaned over and said, “What does this song have to do with anything?” Again, I said, “I have no idea.” Use common sense, soundtrack supervisors. A song about being broke has no place in a movie about werewolves, unless the werewolves are dealing with the fact that they’re broke.
“Blood and Chocolate” is competently made but emotionally hollow, and while I have not read Klause’s book, I can only imagine that there is nothing emotionally hollow about it. Given a second chance, I would have spun the Elvis Costello album of the same name instead, and called it a night. There’s a song on that album called “I Want You.” Now, that has some emotional resonance to it. Certainly more than anything you’ll find here.
As is to be expected, the single-disc release of “Blood & Chocolate” isn’t teeming with special features. The audio commentary with director Katja von Garnier and co-star Oliver Martinez is boring, while the eleven-odd minutes of deleted scenes are completely unnecessary.