“Sadly disappointing and largely toothless.”
The main obstacle to this even reaching average is probably a first-half structure that is, for no readily apparent season, entirely fractured. Scenes appear entirely out of order, with no explanation: why is our heroine now waking up in a morgue? And the problem is, what the film has to offer is so pedestrian, you can’t be bothered to start putting the pieces together. Liu plays Sadie Blake, a journalist investigating the shady underground side of goth culture, who ends up finding a clan of vampires are on top of the food chain, just before becoming one of their victims. However, instead of taking her undeath lying down, she vows revenge and, accompanied by a rogue cop (Chiklis, you’ll not be surprised to learn), begins working her way up said food-chain.
Despite the combination of two potentially incendiary grindhouse themes, in vampires and revenge, the gore and nudity feel more reigned back than they should be. And the vampires here, under leader D’Arcy, are a bunch of wimps whom certain slayers would have disposed of between commercial breaks, with a merry quip. Sadly, Blake is no Buffy, despite her crossbow, and even the action sequences appear to be choreographed by a sloth. It’s aiming to be post-modern in its approach to vampirism; they have few special powers, and I don’t think anyone actually used the V-word. However, part of the reason the monster has survived so long is because of the alluring facets of the mythos, and the film doesn’t come with anything as interesting, to replace what it excised.
The prurient will likely be drawn in by the prospect of Lucy Liu getting her kit off, and they’ll likely enjoy the sequence where she’s hung upside-down, topless. You’ll also get Marilyn Manson and Mr. Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, formerly of 98 Degrees: I leave it up to the reader to decide whether these cameos are a discouragement or incentive to watch. The “unrated, undead” DVD includes about 25 minutes excised from the theatrical version, which also ran a good bit more chronologically – for once, I’m left longing for the rated version, since what we have here is an overlong mess.
Dir: Sebastian Gutierrez
Star: Lucy Liu, Michael Chiklis, James D’Arcy, Carla Gugino