Gamers, girl watchers and gore hounds are the target auds for “BloodRayne,” yet another vidgame filmization by the frightfully prolific Uwe Boll (“House of the Dead,” “Alone in the Dark”). But it’s doubtful that even the least discriminating genre fans will storm into megaplexes before this anemic action-fantasy fast-forwards to homevid. Don’t expect it to stick around very long after Jan. 6 opening on 985 screens.
Loosely based on the popular Majesco vidgames about a half-human/half-vampire heroine who slices and dices Nazis during World War II, “BloodRayne” bears only a slight resemblance to its source material. Scripter Guinevere Turner (whose previous credits include the far more rarified “American Psycho” and “The Notorious Bettie Page”) has cobbled together a formulaic scenario set in a vaguely defined faux-medieval realm where swords, sorcery and sexy bloodsuckers abound.
Rayne (Kristanna Loken of “Terminator 3”) is a “dhampir” — the offspring of a vampire and a human — with serious father issues. When she was a little girl, her mom was brutally murdered by her not-so-loving dad: Kagan (Ben Kingsley — yes, that Ben Kingsley), a vampire overlord with a taste for comely wenches.
Little Rayne grew up to be the star attraction in a circus freak show, amazing audiences with her recuperative powers. Repeatedly cut and burnt by her handlers, she recovers immediately after guzzling animal blood. But when she accidentally get a taste of human plasma, she’s shocked back into an awareness of her tainted bloodline and, more importantly, her thirst for vengeance.
She joins forces with three vampire hunters (Michael Madsen, Matt Davis, Michelle Rodriguez), members of the Brimstone Society, an organization dedicated to slaying creatures like Kagan.
Shot on location in Romania, “BloodRayne” has the unmistakably tatty look of a low-budget international co-production where pennies were pinched and corners were cut. The costumes suggest what “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy might have looked like if its actors had been outfitted at thrift shops.
Pic lurches from incident to incident at a graceless plodding place, offering little in the way of genuine excitement — the swordfights often are confusingly cut and choreographed — and only minimal amounts of guilty-pleasure titillation. Loken and Davis perform a spirited pas de deux against a cell door, and Meat Loaf Aday briefly appears as a mack-daddy vampire who surrounds himself with bare-bosomed bloodsuckers.
For the most part, however, R-rated pic emphasizes bloody carnage more than sexy shenanigans. (Whenever a vampire bites someone here, it sounds like someone munching on a crisp apple.)
Most of the performances are surprisingly bland. Even Kingsley, cast in the sort of role that usually tempts great actors to hammy excess, merely goes through the motions. The only live wire is Billy Zane, who purrs one-liners with plummy aplomb as an ex-Brimstoner turned vampire. His character inexplicably disappears at the three-quarter mark, however, which is one of several indications that pic likely underwent last-minute re-cutting.
Another suspicious sign: An oddly anticlimactic finale that seems abruptly truncated. The door is left open for a sequel, of course, but auds may take that as a threat, not a promise.