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January 28, 2007 |

By Phillip Stephens | Film | January 28, 2007 |

In case Pajiba’s general readership hasn’t gleaned this by now, I hate films like Blood and Chocolate, the horror-fantasy-lite flicks that cast supernatural antics across teenage profundity. I don’t know what to call it — nĂ¼-Goth? (See The Covenant, as well as seemingly any show on the CW). They all seem to be selling sex and style in ways too ridiculous not to laugh at. Comic book fantasies tend to succeed when they at least pretend not to be mere playgrounds for youthful artificiality. And that’s not even remotely the case with Blood and Chocolate.

One thing B&C does that might set it apart is utilize werewolves in its star-crossed-lovers template rather than vampires; I guess most people don’t think it’s sexy when someone starts lycanthroping all over the place. Anyway, one day in scenic Romania, an incredibly bland girl (Agnes Bruckner) meets a guy who looks like he has seaweed sitting atop his head (Hugh Dancy). The pair, named Vivian and Aiden, become infatuated with one another for no reason. Their courtship becomes complicated when it turns out Vivian belongs to a group of expatriates who, on occasion, turn into wolves and eat people.

These particular werewolves don’t even seem to be that: When confronting the whole sex-appeal issue, the writers opted for a much less messy version of transmogrification. A werewolf in Blood and Chocolate needs only smell blood and then dive into the air … at this point he or she will turn into a wispy rainbow, then an actual wolf. No, not a gigantic wolf-human hybrid — just a regular wolf. The problem with this is that it ignores what was frightening or disturbing about werewolves in the first place. Blood and Chocolate toys with a familiar mythology to its detriment. They’re still vulnerable to silver, though, allowing Aiden to whip everyone’s ass with a tiny piece of kitchenware.

Coupled with patently silly material, the actors don’t have much to work with, but they still exude a diffidence that is impossible to engage in any meaningful way. Dancy and Bruckner were obviously chosen for their looks, and nobody else in the film manages to show an aptitude for human emotions that might make them believable or sympathetic.

Maybe it seems like I’m being particularly hard on this movie because of my own personal preferences. Perhaps that’s the case, but really, who the hell was Blood and Chocolate made for? Horror fans? There’s no gore to be found here. Randy teenagers? The romance is so tepid it makes Titanic look like Casablanca. Truly, there’s not a blessed thing that Blood and Chocolate has or is able to turn to its advantage. How can the result be a surprise?

Phillip Stephens is the lead critic for Pajiba. He lives in Fayetteville, AR.

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