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BloodRayne: Deliverance [BloodRayne 2] (2007)
~Review by Grawlix (October 2017)
BloodRayne: Deliverance represents several milestones in the canon of Uwe Boll. For one thing, it’s his first proper sequel. It’s also his first US release to not get pasted at the box office. This is because it was never released in theaters, going directly to DVD. Yes, it appears that after four straight box office bombs his US distributors finally realized that repeating the same actions was unlikely to produce a different result. Frankly I’m surprised it took so long. I mean, Michael Cimino was effectively persona non grata in Hollywood after only one bomb and he won two Oscars. Granted, Boll never came close to bankrupting an entire studio (not for lack of trying) but still, how he managed to score a $60 million budget for the first Dungeon Siege movie after three straight flops is a trick I wish he could teach me. But in any case, that was all over now. With Deliverance, the gravy train had officially ceased making stops at Boll station, leaving the beleaguered director to get by solely on his own ingenuity.
Wanna guess how well that turned out?
Up until this point, Boll’s movies were able to boast a few bright spots amid their (many and pervasive) flaws. The casts, for instance. I don’t know how he did it, but Boll always managed to attract a few recognizable names who either were established enough that their Q-Ratings could handle slumming it through one of his stinkers, or else really needed to pay a few bills. The first BloodRayne, for example, featured Kristanna Loken, Michael Madsen, Ben Kingsley, Billy Zane, and Meat Loaf. An eclectic mix, to be sure, but Boll never seemed to believe in the idea of miscasting.
Loken, who was unable to reprise the titular role of Rayne due to scheduling conflicts (or so she claims) is now replaced by Natassia Malthe who manages the look reasonably well. The acting, not so much, but then, like in most Boll movies it’s hard to know where exactly the fault lies with that one. I’m not going to bother doing a roll call on the rest of the cast. Suffice it to say that many of them have more than one Boll movie on their resumes and one actor in particular, Chris Coppola (no apparent relation to the other, more famous Hollywood Coppolas), has appeared in a disturbing number of movies with dogs on their posters. To say this is the B-list would be exceedingly generous.
Not like all the recasting makes much difference since the movie carries over almost nothing from its predecessor. Deliverance moves the action to the late 19th century American West. It’s set in the town of Deliverance, a one-horse jerkwater on the fringes of civilization in the ending stages of the construction of a railroad that, it is hoped, will bring new growth and prosperity. Into this idyllic hamlet rides Billy the Kid and his gang. Billy is a vampire now, apparently, and decides that the population increase expected from the railroad will afford him an excellent supply of fresh meat to build an unstoppable vampire army. Why he doesn’t just skip a few steps and move to an already populous city like a normal vampire is anybody’s guess. But, since he’s decided to stay in Deliverance until the buffet opens, he bites the local sheriff, abducts a few children to keep the townsfolk compliant (and to serve as an occasional snack) and moves into the mayor’s residence. Billy the Kidnapper is pursued by Pat Garrett who is a member of the vampire hunting Brimstone Society now, apparently, and also by the titular Rayne, a damphyr (half-vampire) and also a member of the Brimstones, though her motivation turns personal quickly when she discovers that ol’ Will Bonney made a meal out of some of her friends.
I have a strong suspicion that Deliverance started life as a generic western before Boll got his hands on it. The script hews heavily towards western genre clichés with the vampire stuff seemingly slotted in wherever it might fit. There’s your typical saloon complete with piano player and poker games, a brothel, a fire and brimstone preacher, and even a hangin’ at the gallows. There’s gunfights too… occasionally, and though there is some lip service paid to the need for garlic and silver bullets, they still play out like they would in any other western and the vampires are occasionally dispatched without comment by more conventional means. Billy the Kid inexplicably sports some sort of unspecified Slavic accent, as if it’s just something that comes with the fangs. He also affects a genteel civility, as if he’s some sort of ancient Dracula-esque antediluvian which really makes things confusing since the real Billy the Kid was only 21 when he was killed in 1881 (hence, y’know, “the kid”) and the movie can’t take place any later than 1900 or so. Ugh, but whatever, I’ve already thought about the plot way more than any of the writers had.
There are three of them, by the way. Three writers credited on this thing. I suspect each one blames the others for how the final product turned out though frankly there’s nothing in this movie that any of them could point to with pride. There isn’t a single line of clever dialog throughout the picture, though there is plenty of swearing, seemingly for its own sake. And the plotting is a clumsy hatchet job when it isn’t painfully generic. Billy’s predilection for children’s blood is supposed to add shock value, I guess, but just comes off as skeevy. It’s precisely the kind of exploitation that someone like Boll would mistake for being edgy or daring.
Prior Boll movies could at least be counted on to provide some watchable action, but even on that level Deliverance disappoints (another casualty of the diminished budget, I have to assume). The battles are few and far between, and when they do finally take place, they’re conventional western shootouts, playing out like any of a thousand others. Rayne rides into town like a badass, but she gets incapacitated early and often and proves to be a weak protagonist. She does have her signature tonfa blades which are used occasionally, most notably in a knife fight in the film’s finale, but even that proves underwhelming.
With the downgrade in action quantity (if not necessarily quality), Boll was seemingly forced to dip into his director’s toolbox to make up the difference, although this appears to have amounted to little except a ton of closeups, and some occasional slow motion. These were intended to build tension, I guess, but that’s hard to achieve when the characters haven’t been developed enough for the audience to care about. It’s all a poor substitute for the mindless action of his prior movies, which may have been many things, but at least they weren’t dull.
I’ve read interviews with Boll before and one thing that always seems to strike the interviewer is that, for all of Boll’s incompetence as a director, the guy has a genuine love for the motion picture medium itself with great enthusiasm for the filmmaking process and a surprisingly deep knowledge of its history. With that in mind, I have to wonder why he even decided to make BloodRayne: Deliverance as it is. Like, was it seriously the only script on offer for the material? Beyond the fact that making a multi-genre period movie was bound to tax his newly truncated budget, with the exception of the occasional outlier, the Western has been a dead genre in the US for some 50 years. You’d think Boll would be aware of this, but then, the guy never seemed all that good at reading the industry tea leaves. You’d think he’d also know that using the title “Deliverance” might conjure memories of dueling banjos and Ned Beatty squealing like a pig. Then again, that sometimes did feel like an apt comparison to watching this movie. One also can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a certain “I’ll show ‘em” stubbornness in his decisions as well. Would that his talent matched his ambition.
And in the end, as usual, it’s all more of a shame than anything else. Wild West Vampires is a very underrepresented subgenre and a new fun entry would’ve been welcome. There are prior examples, stuff like Curse of the Undead, or Billy the Kid Versus Dracula, but the most recent one of those is over fifty years old and they’re both pretty rancid B-movies. Unfortunately, in the most depressing way possible, BloodRayne: Deliverance carries on that tradition.
Final Grade: D-
The only thing keeping this one from an F is that it has a beginning, a middle, and (most importantly) an end, and it gets through it all without completely breaking down. But every aspect of the production is subpar or worse and it’s boring besides. There is no Deliverance from the suckage on display and, therefore, nothing to recommend.
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