And so the dump begins. After an ever-so-short period of big blockbusters, artistic dramas and laugh-out-loud comedies, film studios release those movies destined never to reach any sort of Oscar glory. “Blood and Chocolate,” the first of many casualties, presents a disjointed tale of a young werewolf looking for, well, nothing in particular.
From the producers of “Underworld” (2003) comes the significantly lesser “Blood and Chocolate,” a misguided romance-horror attempt at human drama. Starring Agnes Bruckner as the main loup garoux, the man-wolf shape-shifter of Romanian lore, her character Vivian dreads the fulfillment of a prophecy that would have her marry the leader of the pack, Gabriel (Olivier Martinez).
By chance, Vivian meets American artist Aiden (Hugh Dancy), who is as intrigued by the legend of the loup garoux as he is by Vivian’s wealth of knowledge about it. It soon becomes clear that the couple’s closeness threatens the future of the loup garoux, thereby forcing Gabriel to take matters into his own hands.
The film’s major flaw is its lack of focus. Multiple scenes, subplots and points of view muddle the overall picture. The viewer is confused from the get-go as to what movie he or she is watching. That’s not to say that cross-genre films haven’t been successful in the past; this just isn’t one of them.
The best choice would have been to cut some of the “chocolate.” The mere inclusion of Vivian’s job at a chocolate shop is excessive, especially since it’s established that the title comes from Hermann Hesse’s “Steppenwolf.” Also, focusing so much time on the far-fetched romantic subplot weighs down what could have been a decent werewolf movie.
This indecision makes the final product a flat romance unevenly kneaded into a mediocre thriller, with each element of production weakening the movie a little more. The screenplay is trite and monologue-ridden. The editing is choppy and dizzying, and the score alternates between mysterious and jungle-themed, as if the film didn’t alienate the audience to begin with.
The acting is no better. Bruckner brings stoic to new lows, ruining any possible chemistry with worthy romantic lead Dancy. In turn, Aiden’s pursuit of Vivian is irrational, characterized by a laughable montage of the blossoming of their love. Martinez even disappoints, adopting a thick Spanish-Romanian accent for added effect.
The remaining ensemble is forced to spew corny one-liners and physically emulate wolves. While the effort is present, the actors’ gestures are unnatural, and their running motions look like a poor version of the free-running technique known as parkour used in “Casino Royale” (2006).
The real-life attempts at conveying the man-wolf dynamic may be embarrassing, but the computer-generated ones are simply absurd. To transform into their wolf-selves, the loup garoux’s human forms leap into the air and on the dive-like descent magically morph into wolves. Although the point is to distinguish the loup garoux from grotesque, bestial werewolves, the actual transformation appears so artificial that the attempted serene effect is lost.
In fact, the filmmakers’ overeager “artistic” additions also end up hurting whatever messages the film could have hoped to convey. It skims the surface of significant ideas, but never begins to delve into any of them. Gabriel’s protective, family-oriented motivation for running Aiden out of town is dropped mid-scene, Vivian’s shame of her bloodline changes out of the blue and the conflict between tradition and adaptation is forgotten towards the end, when things take a turn for the oddly scientific.
From the earliest stages of production to the last, “Blood and Chocolate” is a disaster. With a plotline that plays out like a run-on sentence, it’s no surprise that the movie is inconclusive and unsatisfying. Pick your poison, spare yourself a bad flick and ten dollars and watch a real werewolf movie.