Set in 1930s prohibition, a corrupt cop discovers that the popular speakeasy in town has been infiltrated by vampires.
I’ve just seen the new Ice-T horror/action vampire movie – Bloodrunners – and I’m pretty much speechless.
Speechless in the sense that I’m absolutely floored by the utterly crap-tastic cinematic experience I’ve just completed, but not speechless enough to keep from spilling my guts about every tiny, terrible detail… of which there are many.
Bloodrunners is a period piece, following a bunch of crooked cops in the early 1930’s – smack-dab in the prohibition era. Troubled war veteran and detective Jack Malone (co-writer Michael McFadden) is at the center of this little New York town’s money scandals (taking cash from speakeasy owners under the table – allowing the businesses to continue operating), but when a new speakeasy opens up, headed by Chesterfield (Ice-T of Law and Order: SVU), it quickly becomes apparent that Chesterfield and his associates are blood-thirsty vampires. Add into the mix Chesterfield’s young busboy Willie (Chris Boylan) and his girlfriend Anna (Airen DeLaMater) and her mother/local madam Rosie (Kerry McGann) and soon the whole town becomes involved in the illegal blood-smuggling and blood-letting.
Look, from the get-go, I can freely admit that this is a pretty nifty idea — vampires under-cover via a prohibition era speakeasy. It’s not a bad concept, but when executed by these particular writers/filmmakers/actors – it’s not remotely exciting, imaginative or even passable.
With the exception of a few small (very small) chunks of this film (I’ll get to those bits later), Bloodrunners is a complete disaster.
Technically, there are too many problems to discuss in this relatively short review. But awkward camera movements are an easy target. Of note, when three of the characters who are conversing outside, eventually enter the speakeasy, the camera lingers just a little bit too long and then inexplicably pans down. It makes no sense, is distracting and you have to wonder why such a strange choice was made. And that’s just the most memorable example.
Every transition is a “dissolve” effect. It’s tired, lazy and uninspired and it looks cheap. The lighting is flat and many times insufficient.
The score constantly felt like it belonged in another film. It was overly-extravagant and did nothing to elicit emotion.
The dialogue was dreadful. There’s an attempt to make it sound like the old gangster films which actually came out of that era, but it never sounds legit. And with the use of “throw down”, I found it a bit hard to buy. There’s also this particular doozy, which I mentally made a note of, as I knew I’d want to share it. Malone (a drunk) tells Rosie something along the lines of “This is the longest I’ve ever been sober”. To which Rosie replies, “It’s been a sobering day for all of us”. Ugh.
The acting. What can I possibly say about the acting? Let me think – Oh, I’ve got it! It’s all terrible (see my exception below). Even a veteran actor like Ice-T (with not much screen-time – clearly lending his name) can’t provide a decent performance. Frankly, I can’t recall ever having seen a performance of his – but with his long career in front of the camera, I’ve gotta believe this awful acting work is simply a fluke.
I’ve had this same complaint about other recently reviewed films. If your piece is meant to be some sort of joke, then you’ve not only failed by NOT making that clear to your audience with a knowing wink, but you’ve also failed by making a film which is meant to be taken seriously – and we as the audience, cannot do that – because it’s terrible in practically every way.
On the good side, there was a nifty “gun-cam” shot as Rosie pulled out her shotgun to take care of the vampires in her house of ill-repute – with the camera following her every move, mounted to the end of the shotgun barrel. It looked cool. The sets in the climax looked far better and more authentic than all of the rest of the locations/sets used throughout the film.
And the biggest quality component: as the very effeminate “nancy-boy” Victor Renfield (clever) – Chesterfield’s second in command (and a mortal) – Peter Patrikios is the only actor to rise above the dregs of this script and the dreadful story-telling which manages to destroy everyone else on the cast roster. Out of a rather sizeable ensemble, he’s the only one who is able to deliver his lines with any gusto. His final moments on screen in a destroyed club are well done. That’s not to say his entire performance was all hunky-dory (his gay club-owner was a total cliché), but he at least found some good acting choices, whereas no one else ever came close.
There’s an attempt at a sort of big reveal, just before Malone and Willie prepare to destroy Chesterfield and his cronies – but if you didn’t see this coming an hour before – then I request that you please turn in your movie-fan club membership immediately. Even if you didn’t see it coming – by that point, you won’t really care.
The fact that this is a 1930’s period piece is impressive. But for something which seems to be on the lower end of movie budgets – it appears as though most of the money was spent on the old-timey cars used in the film. They certainly get a lot of use out of these old autos, and aside from some rather nifty visual effects during the film’s climax (the vampires’ deaths were kinda cool), I don’t know where else the film’s budget actually went. It’s just not a good-looking movie.
Suffice to say, this easily falls into the pile marked “avoid at all costs”. Other than a few very minute glimpses of quality (blink and you’ll miss ‘em), there’s nothing here to interest you. Best to just move along.
Bloodrunners is now available on DVD/Bluray and VOD.