leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh
Though indisputably the best of Uwe Boll's first three video-game-into-film adaptations, this gory, ludicrous horror-action picture isn't good by any standard: It's formulaic, tin-eared (which wouldn't be surprising except that screenwriter Guinevere Turner is a real writer, not a video-game scripter), remarkably dull and astonishingly badly acted. Granted, no single cast member sinks to the depths achieved by Tara Reid as a brilliant anthropologist who can't pronounce "Newfoundland" in ALONE IN THE DARK (2005), but the combination of Michael Madsen, Billy Zane and Sir Ben Kingsley respectively phoning it in, camping it up and just sitting around (literally half of Kingsley's screen time is spent in a chair) is devastating. Once upon a time in some vaguely 18th-century European somewhere, vicious vampire Kagan (Kingsley) sired a hybrid child a "dhampir" with a human woman. Kagan killed the mother but never found his half-breed daughter, Rayne. As an adult, Rayne (Kristanna Loken) is ignorant of her heritage and brutally exploited by sadistic carnies until the night an attempted rape awakens her bloodlust. Her rampage alerts both Kagan and roving vampire hunters Vladimir (the bloated Madsen), Sebastian (Matthew Davis) and Katarin (Michelle Rodriguez), members of the secret society Brimstone. Rayne, meanwhile, vows never again to kill humans, only vampires, and after learning her father's identity and nature from a fortune-teller (Geraldine Chaplin), she puts him at the top of her hit list. She eventually joins forces with the Brimstone brigade, even though petulant, volatile Katarin takes an instant dislike to her. And then there's the matter of the three talismans Kagan needs before he can realize his evil plan to rule the world, as well as the problem of Katarin's father (Billy Zane), a nobleman who betrayed Brimstone to become a vampire and now has some new dastardly scheme up his frilly sleeve. Though the sheer volume of plot should keep the mind from wandering, the film is so tedious it's hard not to start wondering things like why Loken and Rodriguez are wearing hip-huggers and belly-baring corset tops when every other woman is in a dirndl. Why is "dhampir" pronounced "dahm-fear," and why would anyone want to see Meat Loaf half-buried under the scrum of naked Romanian prostitutes Boll hired because they were more cost-effective than actresses? And why do moviegoers and gamers keep going to see video-game-based movies when neither group is ever happy with the results?