Coming to DVD Tuesday, Sept. 18th
Natassia Malthe as Rayne
Zack Ward as Billy the Kid
Brendan Fletcher as Muller
Michael ParÃ© as Pat Garret
Chris Coppola as Newton Pyles
Michael Teigen as Franson
Michael Eklund as The Preacher
Directed by Uwe Boll
Just as director James Mangold’s remake of “3:10 To Yuma” is currently reprising the cinematic virtues of the Western, here comes what could be called 3:10 to Uwe. It’s “Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance” â wild card director Uwe Boll’s take on the venerated genre as he brings the videogame-based heroine of “Bloodrayne” into the Wild West, mingling ravenous vampires with gunslingers and leaving American frontier history gasping in its wake.
Picking up a hundred years or so after “Bloodrayne” (2005), “Deliverance” transfers the eponymous half-vampire (played by Natassia Malthe, who inherits the role from “Terminator 3’s Kristanna Loken) from her original stomping grounds of Romania to the New World, pitting her against the undead evil of outlaw Billy the Kid (played by Zack Ward, best known as Peter Billingsley’s nemesis in “A Christmas Story”). Boll’s Horrific History Tour also teams an outgunned Rayne with a grizzled Pat Garrett (played by a grizzled Michael Pare), the real-life lawman famous for killing Billy the Kid.
In the sophomoric tradition of hack Westerns set in towns with names meant to evoke obvious symbolism (Purgatory, Salvation, etc.), Boll’s characters live in the town known as (what else?) Deliverance. A rail service is due to be installed in the tiny outpost any day now and Billy (who apparently hails from Transylvania as Ward speaks with an European accent only slightly less convincing than that of Sesame Street’s The Count) is planning on using the influx of travelers to turn Deliverance into Bloodsucker Junction.
Luckily, Rayne has come riding into these parts in the course of her pursuit of vampires and no more will Billy be able to terrorize the good people of Deliverance. Well, as it turns out, Billy will actually have much more time to terrorize them. In fact, you’d think he had 365 Days of Night to do as he pleases as Rayne is one half-vampire who doesn’t quite go for the jugular.
You get a sense of how Rayne rolls early on when she goes into a saloon and cozies up to the bar just as a vampire who she’s been pursuing from other territories comes up beside her. Does she stake him? No, instead she sits down with him and plays a few hands of cards. It’s only after the game gets rowdy that she actually decides to use force on the unholy bloodsucker. This kind of passivity (which Boll tries to depict as signifying cool aloofness) sets the tone for Rayne’s less-than-urgent struggle with Billy, which is so aimless and roundabout at times that it reaches comic proportions.
But if you think “Deliverance” is maddeningly paced (it is) or that its heroine is incapable of prompt action (she is), don’t blame Boll. Instead blame the late master director Sergio Leone (“The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”). Writers Christopher Donaldson and Neil Every are interviewed in a behind the scenes documentary and as Donaldson says: “(Boll) basically sat down with us and said: Sergio Leone â do it!” Unfortunately, Boll’s perception of Leone’s work is that “music plays forever and nothing happens. That was a big influence on this movie.” And that’s absolutely true â this is a movie where no one takes two minutes to do what they can stretch to ten. Given that, it’s almost a shock when an ending is finally reached.
I haven’t kept tabs on Boll’s progress since 2003’s “House of the Dead” [Editor’s Note: Consider that a blessing, Jeff.] â this is the first movie I’ve seen from him since then, actually. But if this is an indication of the curve of his filmmaking career, then I haven’t missed much. “Deliverance” is handsomely shot, at least â the work of director of photography Mathias Neumann leaves nothing to be desired. But that’s where the accolades end.
But I do have to give a special mention to “Deliverance’s writers in one instance. I expected the film to end on a famous Casablanca quote: “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” as the moment just seemed to demand it. But instead, they served up this classy alternative: “Life is like a penis â when it’s hard, you get screwed. When it’s soft, you can’t beat it.” I have to say it almost made the movie worth sitting through. So here’s looking at you, Boll!
If you want to see a satisfying vampire western, the underrated “Sundown” (1990) and “From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter” (2000) are both recommended. The horror western has been a (sometimes inexplicable) sub-genre since 1966’s “Billy the Kid vs. Dracula” and “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter” but if the West is all about Tall Tales and shoot-from-the-hip ethos, Boll and his “Deliverance” co-creators failed to hit the mark. As the old saying goes, they couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.