A Love Story ... with Werewolves!

Jul 18, 2007
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Original idea of an old story.

Cons:Slow moving in parts

The Bottom Line: It was an interesting take on the werewolf legend.


Nick and I perused the new movie releases last Friday. Nick wanted to go with Horror, and we spotted Blood and Chocolate a new release in the werewolf genre. We have both seen a number of werewolf films including the outstanding Underworld and An American Werewolf in London and the not so good like Cursed. As a kid I even saw all the Teen Wolf films, but Nick is too young to know who Michael J. Fox is.

So, I sat in my chair and fired up the projector waiting another lame retelling of the werewolf legend to end up pleasantly surprised. The film is set in Bucharest, Romania, home of the Dracula legends for real. I could tell that it was actually filmed in Romania's capital as well, because the city center looks like a small version of Paris. In reality, in the 1920s, Bucharest was nicknamed "Litte Paris" and was quite a city.

A young girl runs from her home as hunters kill her family and burn her house down. We are brought to present day Bucharest to see the girl, now a young woman living with friends and working in a chocolate shop. We quickly learn that she is a werewolf, and that her family was killed because they were werewolves. However, as the story unfolds we also learn that these are no ordinary werewolves that cannot help but transform by the light of the silvery moon. They are a family of loup garoux who are able to transform into wolves at free will and are in control of their abilities. The werewolf gene for them is a blessing and not a curse.

Vivian (Agnes Bruckner) is the young woman, and the story is about her and a young writer that she meets Aiden (Hugh Dancy). He is writing about the werewolf legends, although he hasn't a clue that the myths are actually reality, let alone that Vivian herself is one of them. Soon jealousies flair because Vivian has been promised to the leader of the werewolves, Gabriel (Oliver Martinez) and werewolves just aren't allowed to date people anyway. I won't tell you how the story plays out, although if you have watched any number of love stories, I am sure that you will be able to figure things out, love conquers all after all.

Cinematography / special effects

I really liked the on location shooting in Bucharest, it gave the film an old world charm, and really set the mood much more than a Hollywood lot could. Rather than shoot elaborate effects like An American Werewolf, the transformation was shown in a glow of light which engulfed the person, and faded to reveal a wolf. It was simple, but effective. The film was not about the special effects, it was about the story.

Audio

The surround mix and the soundtrack of this film was very well done. In several scenes in which you didn't know where the wolves were, growls and broken branches would suddenly sound out behind you or next to you. This use of the rear channels really added to the films feeling of fear in several scenes. I also enjoyed the classical music style soundtrack.

Acting / Direction

Another aspect of this film that set it apart was the acting. I didn't feel like I was watching a cliched horror film because Agnes Buckner and Hugh Dancy who played the leads did so with believability. I didn't feel that the dialogue was cheesy, it seemed to flow naturally and made me feel for the characters.

Katja Von Garnier is a new young woman director and she was chosen as one of the top ten independant directors to watch by Variety. After watching her first big film, I can see why. Her previous experience was in television directing. In some sections the film dragged out a bit, but overall this blend of romance and horror worked well.

Summary

Blood and Chocolate was one of the better werewolf tales I have seen, and provided a fresh look at what was a tired genre. My son and I recommend it.


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