Bloodrayne: The Third Reich, the third installment in Uwe Boll’s vampire franchise, is among the most boring action movies I’ve ever seen. It’s based on the semi-popular videogame series that started with Bloodrayne (2002), a third-person claret-soaked mash-em-up which spawned a sequel (the nastier and grimier Bloodrayne 2, 2004), and a comic book series (which is the most exciting incarnation of the character thus far). In the same way that the second game jumped from its 1930’s setting to a more contemporary 00’s setting, Bloodrayne: The Third Reich jumps from the 1880’s Wild West locale of Bloodrayne: Deliverance (Boll, 2007) to the middle of WWII; 1943 on the Eastern Front, to be exact.
Boll is frequently referred to as the worst filmmaker of all time, and certainly given his prolific nature for turning out half-hearted and cruel pictures in an exploitation mould, that argument isn’t going to get any opposition from me anytime soon. The thing that separates him from a filmmaker like Ed Wood is that Wood made his movies with passion and imagination; he was in love with storytelling, cared about cinema and believed everything he did to be a masterpiece. The simple problem is that he never made one and didn’t know how to realize his ambition. Boll’s filmmaking feels much more cynical and dirty – I don’t get the feeling he cares about cinema, but rather just has some very offensive things to say very loudly and very often. His films are not constructed with passion, nor do they showcase any imagination. They are slick, sick genre vehicles for the most part, and his ‘political’ diversions like Rampage (2009) are all the worse for their pretensions of grandeur.
But the biggest complaint I have about Bloodrayne: The Third Reich (which, in fairness, is a great title) is that it’s just terminally boring. Even when Rayne (Natassia Malthe) lays herself down for a totally pointless and gratuitous lesbian sex scene – after a hearty throat-slitting I might add – the film didn’t even raise a pulse. In fact, coming in at around the half hour mark that indulgent fantasy was the point where I started to nod off. There’s a fascinating connection to be drawn between sex and death in vampire lore, but recreating softcore porn isn’t the best way to engage with those ideas.
The action fares a little better, but is still unengaging. Fight sequences are sporadically interjected into the narrative, but often for no reason. One scene sees Rayne walking down a street when she is attacked by two shabby bloodsuckers. She dispatches them in seconds, CGI blood splattering the screen as she does, but what’s the purpose of this badly choreographed scene? Who knows, but to suggest that there’s any kind of plot in the film, and that any of the scenes have any truly coherent connection anyway is perhaps to do the film a service it doesn’t deserve. I presume that scene is there so that Boll can remind his audience of how shallow he is, and how he thinks they can’t possibly be engaged by his movie for longer than ten minutes without regressing into violence. But the set-pieces, including an early train siege, are shoddily directed and in a couple of places rip off The Matrix (Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, 1999). I mean, didn’t we all get over that a couple of years ago?
The acting is atrocious too. Natassia Malthe has clearly been cast for her physique more than her performing abilities; the bountiful Norwegian model spends the entirety of the film either in tight-fitting corsets or naked, with one sex scene in the back of a Nazi truck (she’s being transported to her death, basically) feeling very tacky in particular. Once again it feels as if Uwe is suspecting his audiences boredom, so he decides to strip down and degrade his lead actress for another round of gratuitous sex. Thanks Uwe, but no thanks. But the worst cast member is Clint Howard, a staggeringly bad actor who chews up the scenery and spits it out in a performance that feels somehow alien. He’s had a bizarre career and has attained some cult status but here seems to be struggling with the English language, delivering every line with OTT relish and an accent that is impossible to locate in terms of geography.
So, Bloodrayne: The Third Reich is a plodding, largely incoherent vampire movie with some of the worst acting in any release you’ll see this year. It’s not like I’m surprised at all, given Boll’s track record, but I don’t think he’s ever made a film that feels this empty and useless. IMDB lists the running time at 100 minutes, but this release clocks in at 75. I get the feeling it’s been chopped all to hell, but in a way that’s my most glowing recommendation. It’s short, so you won’t have to suffer long. But when a movie this banal, this bloodless and this vacant is hitting shelves… well, why bother putting yourself through it at all?
Extras: A laughable 29-minute documentary which attempts to paint Boll as some kind of Roger Corman esque production legend and genre auteur sits alongside a 6-minute interview with writer Michael Nachoff (this film had a writer?) and an audio commentary with Boll and Nachoff which I haven’t listened to but suspect *sarcasm hat on* will be an insightful and entertaining delight *sarcasm hat off*. A shoddy selection for a shoddy film, but that documentary is more entertaining than the feature just for the sheer hyperbolic delusion surrounding Boll’s ‘talent’.
Bloodrayne: The Third Reich is out on DVD 2nd May 2011.
Director: Uwe Boll
Writer: Michael Nachoff
Stars: Clint Howard, Natassia Malthe, Michael Paré
Runtime: 75 min
Country: USA, Canada, Germany
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