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Blood & Chocolate
cast: Agnes Bruckner, Hugh Dancy, Oliver Martinez, Bryan Dick, and Katja Riemann

director: Katja von Garnier

94 minutes (12) 2006
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Entertainment In Video DVD Region 2 rental
[retail release 30 July]

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Ian R. Faulkner
Loosely adapted from the popular young-adult novel written by Annette Curtis Klause, and published originally in 1997, Blood & Chocolate owes a huge debt to a number of sources: first and foremost is the bard's classic tale of forbidden love, Romeo And Juliet, only in Blood & Chocolate the rival families of Montague and Capulet are werewolves and humans (or, as the film would have you call them, loup-garou and meat-boys); next up we have Neil Jordan's 1984 fantasy masterpiece, The Company Of Wolves, which I'm sure inspired director Katja von Garnier in her use of real wolves and slow-motion when shooting the wolf pack running through the forest; and, last but not least, we have with the Len Wiseman directed Underworld, and Underworld: Evolution (2006), although this one is more than a little misleading, as it comes from the movie's advertising blurb rather than from any actual connection or resonance (neither the director nor the writers of Blood & Chocolate, Ehren Kruger and Christopher Landon, had anything to do with the Kate Beckinsale vehicles).

The story of Blood & Chocolate, as hinted at above, deals with displaced and unhappy teenager, Vivian Gandillon (Agnes Bruckner), who after witnessing the brutal slaying of her family in the United States has relocated to Bucharest to live with her aunt Astrid (Katja Riemann) and, whilst under the protection of the local wolf pack, try to forget the horror of her past and live a normal life - not an easy thing to do when you're a werewolf betrothed to pack leader, Gabriel (Olivier Martinez), and prophesised to return the loup-garou to prominence and dominance over humanity. When Vivian falls in love with the very human American tourist Aiden (Hugh Dancy) everything begins to fall apart and her suddenly divided loyalty is further strained towards breaking point when her cousin, and the film's bad guy, Rafe (Bryan Dick) and Gabriel force her to choose between true love and family.

Blood & Chocolate is not a classic movie and, unless I'm sadly mistaken, it probably never will be, although it is entertaining and does have a few nice touches. The fact it is clearly aimed at the teen market makes comparing it to films such as Ginger Snaps, or An American Werewolf In London (1981), unfair, but the comparison is inevitable given the subject matter, and it is against these (and others of this subgenre too numerous to list) that it fails. It just doesn't have enough substance - and it definitely lacks in the scares department. Also I felt no empathy or sympathy for any the characters, surely prerequisites for any movie of this type going back as far as the 1941 granddaddy of all werewolf flicks, The Wolf Man, starring Lon Chaney Jr (curiously not the first lycanthropic outbreak in cinema's recorded history: the honour of which goes to the 1935 Werewolf Of London), and at the movie's conclusion I was strangely unmoved and indifferent to it all.

It is, as I've said, entertaining and certainly not badly made or the worst film I've ever seen, but it has no edge; Blood & Chocolate somehow just doesn't make the cut to warrant the expense of a rental, let alone a purchase, unless of course you're a werewolf completist, a very young pre-teen brought up on a diet of MTV, or you like your monster films cute and cuddly and without (pun intended) bite. In overview: not enough chocolate or blood to make either the Gothic romantic or the horror fan happy.

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