DVD Release Date: June 12, 2007
Theatrical Release Date: January 26, 2007
Rating: PG-13 (for violence/terror, some sexuality and substance abuse)
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Run Time: 98 min.
Director: Katja Von Garnier
Actors: Agnes Bruckner, Olivier Martinez, Hugh Dancy, Bryan Dick, Katja Riemann

Vivian (Agnes Bruckner) is a pretty teenager who was raised as an American, but now lives with her aunt Astrid (Katja Riemann) and creepy Uncle Gabriel (Olivier Martinez) in Bucharest, Romania, after authorities killed her parents.  She works in a chocolate shop, goes for long runs and tries to avoid Gabriel, who keeps reminding her that it will soon be time for him to take a new wife—her.  He gets a new woman every seven years, according to werewolf tradition.

Along with her aunt, uncle and cousin, Rafe (Bryan Dick), she belongs to a pack of werewolves (or “loup garoux,” as they prefer to be called) who are at least 5,000 years old.  Their ruler is Gabriel, who likes to preach the ancient prophecies, including the one which foretells of a young woman who will liberate the wolves from man’s reign, ushering in a new age of “hope and glory.”  Gabriel thinks this woman must be Vivian.  Meanwhile, for kicks, he likes to gather his pack and set them loose on hunts, during which they shed their clothes, dive into the air like Olympians and, with the help of some schmaltzy CGI light, transform into hungry wolves who rip humans apart.

The moon has nothing to do with their transformation, however.  These lycanthropes can shape-shift whenever they want, or whenever their blood is shed.  The only way someone knows this is about to happen?  Their eyes, which become, well, wolf-like.

This, along with Vivian’s impending nuptials, poses a huge problem.  She has no friends and keeps to herself, so after meeting Aidan (Hugh Dancy), an American graphic novelist who just happens to be researching werewolves for his next book, Vivian does everything she can to avoid him.  Her need gives way, however, and soon the two are dancing in and out of fountains to a Hillary Duff-like music score.  This infuriates Rafe, who regularly disobeys Gabriel’s rule of hunting only in packs, in order to satisfy his carnal lust.  Rafe reports Vivian’s treachery to Gabriel, who orders Rafe to take care of Aidan.  Soon, Aidan has the entire pack on his heels.  Will Vivian betray her family and save him?

German director Katja Von Garnier fills this film with beautiful, travelogue-like shots of Bucharest.  The cinematography is strong, with nocturnal streetscapes, dimly-lit church shots and some nightclub scenes that all promise suspense.  Unfortunately, it’s far too violent (with hints of sensuality) for any but the most mature of teens, despite its PG-13 rating.  The problem is that they, the film’s intended audience, are likely to end up howling—with laughter.

Blood and Chocolate’s biggest problem, aside from the fact that it contains hardly any blood or chocolate, rendering the title meaningless, is its script (written by Ehren Kruger [The Brothers Grimm] and Christopher Landon, based on the popular teen novel by Annette Curtis Klause).  The pacing lags, the characters have little depth and the story lacks credibility.  Not only that, but we’re also forced to endure the most bizarre dialogue I’ve ever heard.  Take, for instance: “I’m leaving!  I’ll be on tonight’s train,” to which another character replies, “I’m the train.” Or this threat, in an ancient church filled with bones: “I’ll bury you here—as a ceiling fan or something.”

Hmmm . . . must be werewolf-speak.  Or how about this one: “If you’d have cared a GD thing about me, you’d have left me before we met.”  I assume this was translated from Romanian?  By someone who doesn’t speak English, no doubt.

Bruckner appears to have overdosed on Botox or Prozac (if not both), because she doesn’t move her face at all.  Martinez, who is normally quite good, doesn’t offer more than a few snarls, and Dancy, who is equally adept, seems lost in his role as well.  Then again, who wouldn’t be, with lines like, “Full of secrets, aren’t you?”  Bruckner and Dancy have so little chemistry together, in fact, that when they finally kissed, I actually winced. 

As for the special effects, we don’t ever get to see any wolf transformations, which might have livened things up a little.  The actors go from human to animal with only a few quick (and cheap) flashes of light.  So what’s good about the film?  Well, aside from the cinematography, there is this hope of a “new age,” which we don’t usually see in werewolf movies.  However, I can’t help but wonder exactly what that means, because it’s never even explored.  An age when werewolves will rule the world?  Oh, I’m licking my chops.

AUDIENCE:  Older teens and up

DVD EXTRAS:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Commentary with Director Katja Von Garnier and Olivier Martinez

CAUTIONS:

  • Occult: References to werewolf legends, which include prophecies, church-like preaching and meetings that center around ritualized slaughter; several creepy church scenes; main character, who is a werewolf, has a cross tattoo.
    * Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate.  Several nightclub scenes with close-ups and discussions of alcoholic drinks, especially absinthe, as well as shots of bottles on wall behind bar; in one scene, characters down shots of absinthe; in another, alcohol is spilled onto floor and bursts into flames; character speaks of father, who is an addict.
  • Language/Profanity: Moderate.  A dozen or so obscenities and profanities.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity: Moderate.  Suggestive dancing by two female characters; singer sings lewd lyrics (which can be easily understood); character grabs derriere of a woman, who pushes him away by the crotch and says, “In your dreams!”; photo of rear female nudity; female character briefly appears nude, lying on her side (no visible genitalia); couple kisses several times; older woman sports cleavage, appears wearing only a sheet, rebukes her husband for adultery and tries to entice him to their bedroom; other various verbal innuendo, as well as implied incest theme (which is not addressed as such).
  • Violence: Strong, with numerous threats, menaces, fighting and attacks, including some on humans, which are mostly shown from a distance or offscreen; woman is mauled (offscreen) and left dead, covered in blood; parents are shot by authorities, who burn a home and pursue a terrified young child with snarling dogs; various frightening graveyard, street and church scenes; several gun fights and wolf fights.