Rise: Blood Hunter
The Gothic eZine - Movie Review

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Rise: Blood Hunter

Starring Lucy Liu, Michael Chiklis, and James D’Arcy. Rated 18A.

Rise: Blood Hunter can’t decide whether it wants to be blood-splattered trash or a meditation on the moral dilemma facing all newly minted vampires. And because the film never does figure out where to plant its wooden stake, the resulting mess disappoints both unabashed gore hounds and devoted members of Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat Fan Club.

A weirdly aloof, boob-baring Lucy Liu plays Sadie Blake, an L.A. Weekly reporter who, after landing a cover scoop on goth culture, is sucked into a cult where the likes of Circe Nightshade are seen as all-you-can-eat buffets. Before you can say Bela Lugosi is dead, our intrepid journalist ends up in the morgue, waking from the dead with an insatiable thirst for human plasma. The hook is that killing gives her the dry heaves, which gets her seeking revenge on those who’ve turned her into a bloodsucker.

Veteran cinematographer John Toll (Braveheart) is the only one who gets things right in Rise. Under his watch, the City of Angels is a noirish wonder world full of dark shadows. Beyond that, the scariest thing here is the universally bad acting. The normally reliable Michael Chiklis is the most egregious offender, his tortured detective with a short fuse ripped directly from bad prime-time TV. Given little to work with by writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez, James D’Arcy’s lead vampire, Bishop, is so uninterestingly one-dimensional that not even Buffy would have bothered with him. Liu mostly wanders around like she can’t believe she’s sunk from Kill Bill to this.

But the ultimate blame for this bloody, clichéd mess lies with Gutierrez, who wrote Snakes on a Plane. Because his vampires lack not only discernible superpowers and elongated incisors but also any air of mystery, they don’t exactly bring sexy back. More unforgivable is that Gutierrez hasn’t kept up on the latest advancements in vampire technology. Thanks to all the high-tech weaponry seen in films like Underworld, the sight of Liu seeking revenge with nothing but a puny Toys “R” Us crossbow is laughably sad. Kind of like Rise: Blood Hunter.

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