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A Wolf In Girl's Clothing
by Scott Tunstall

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Looks that kill.

Looks that kill.
Blood and Chocolate is not what I would consider straight horror. I lump it into the same grouping as An American Werewolf in London, which mixes dark comedy, romance and horror. Now American Werewolf has its share of gore too, but the central theme has more to do with David's transformation from boy to man, than man to wolf. But I digress. Blood and Chocolate combines young love with fantasy and comes away looking more like an extended episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV show) than a straightforward werewolf flick. With that in mind, it still possesses enough elements to qualify entry into the scare genre.


Welcome to Bucharest, Romania. Home of the famous Cismigiu Gardens, the Arcul de Triumf, and the Loup-Garoux. Beautiful gardens, a giant arch and a pack of ancient werewolves. Also calling this historic city home is Vivian (Agnes Bruckner), a reserved teen betrothed to the leader of the Loup-Garoux,
Stuck in the middle.

Stuck in the middle.
Gabriel (Olivier Martinez). Torn by her innate affliction, Vivian is not particularly fond of her ancestors' bloodthirst. Her misgivings attract the suspicious eye of her cousin Rafe, a loose-cannon wolf boy who is heir to the Loup-Garoux throne. Complicating matters further for Vivian is her budding relationship with only-human writer Aiden (Hugh Dancy). Vivian and Aiden are breaking werewolf law, much to the chagrin of Gabriel, who views all non-shape-shifters as the enemy. Unwilling to halt their dangerous liaison, the young lovers find themselves at war with the Loup-Garoux, who will fight to the death to preserve their primeval legacy.

Werewolves, MTV style. That's basically what we got here. Lots of attractive, nubile bodies writhing shirtless in the woods. How can you find fault in that? Director Katja von Garnier adds another chapter to her female empowerment series: femme fatale criminals in Bandits, women's suffrage in Iron Jawed Angels, and now lady
Rough night.

Rough night.
lycanthropes in Blood and Chocolate. Vivian plays the typical adolescent girl defying her family's wishes in an effort to live her own life on her own terms. Her defiance of the dominant male archetypes emboldens her role as feminist warrior. However, she is far from a hardened woman; it is a naive passion and love for a man that drives her to reject familial tradition. She isn't guided by bitterness or retribution, but rather hope in the future. A future filled with possibility and devoid of brutality.

The choice by screenwriters Ehren Kruger and Christopher B. Landon (also author Annette Curtis Klause) not to make Vivian some sort of superwoman is essential. Her and Aiden formulate a modernistic partnership where both strive for equal footing. Aiden is no push-over. His ability to adequately defend himself against other-worldly creatures makes him a worthy match for Vivian. Kindness, creativity, and undying loyalty are the traits that attract Vivian. For all her strength,
Top dog.

Top dog.
loneliness and a sense of not belonging make her a vulnerable character in need of support. Aiden is more than capable of providing the proverbial rock to lean on.

Stunning Bucharest architecture combined with dark untamed forests contribute an ideal backdrop for this moody story. Katja von Garnier astutely maneuvers her camera through age-old streets and inside archaic churches, not wasting any chance to show-off one of Europe's pristine cities. The plot is a little thin, and watching the "pack" hungrily stalk its prey is silly, but the film is nevertheless entertaining.

Bruckner is credible playing Vivian; she is meant to be quiet, but her face seems too vacant at times. Olivier Martinez once again butchers English, making me wish he'd just been subtitled. Although he does portray Gabriel in an appropriately menacing fashion. I wouldn't call Blood and Chocolate a guilty pleasure, but I was surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did. Not deep or revealing, it will still keep your attention.

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Eye On The Overlooked
Every other Sunday

A lot of great movies slip through the cracks. I'm here to catch them.

Other Columns
Other columns by Scott Tunstall:

High School Can Be Murder

Southern Hospitality

Ten Great Films From the 2000s

Down With The System

Stranger In A Strange Land

All Columns

Scott Tunstall
Scott is a freelance writer currently living in the Southeast. He is a film school grad with a love of theory and screenwriting. His tastes vary from obscure niche films to giant Hollywood blockbusters. In other words, he'll watch pretty much anything.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Scott Tunstall by clicking here.

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