Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Bloodrunners (2017) - Horror Film Review

Bloodrunners has a few things going for it that piqued my interest. Firstly it is a period piece set during the prohibition era of 1930's America, I was interested to see how this would be handled with a low budget film. Secondly it features vampires who while not my favourite movie monster (zombies obviously!) are usually entertaining when it comes to films. Lastly it stars Ice-T, I had a feeling this meant I would be in for a fun time.

Bloodrunners takes place towards the end of prohibition in 1933, in a small American town where the corrupt police take bribes from local businesses in order to turn a blind eye to their dealings with alcohol. One such cop; world weary Jack Malone (Michael McFadden) is suspicious about the activities of a newly opened speakeasy, he figures that the owner of the establishment (Chesterfield played by Ice-T) has more going on than simple boot-legging. His hunch turns out to be correct, but unfortunately for him it turns out that both Chesterfield and his staff are all vampires, and they don't appreciate his meddlings...

Sometimes it is possible for a film to be at once not very good and also a load of fun to watch. The main problem here more than anything is the budget. 1930's America is portrayed well even if it is just a bunch of mostly interior sets and country roads. The clothing seems authentic, while I was most impressed with the great looking vintage cars used. On the other side though you have a reliance on CGI effects that maybe aren't the best and give a sometimes fake feeling to situations. A flashback to World War I for instance is heavily CGI'd up, while one car drive seemed to be very green screened. In general I got the same feeling viewing this as I do watching a made for TV film, ones that would air on the UK Channel 5. Saying all this I did enjoy the old fashioned look, while vampires have been seen in different time periods before (aside from all the films based on Bram Stoker's Dracula you have Interview with the Vampire as well as the flashback episodes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel) it was still cool to see how people would be able to fight the menace using old weapons such as Tommy-guns.

Aside from a few slight moments it isn't until the final third of Bloodrunners that you get to see the vampires in full swing. This actually had the best parts of the movie as a delightful slow mo effect is used to simulate the vampires super human speed and strength. If you have ever seen the Wesker fight at the end of Resident Evil: Afterlife then you will know what I mean. There are some pretty cool moments involving this effect, especially one that features a female vampire in a red dress. The best parts of the film, as well as the best use of CGI all comes in these fight scenes, it shows being subtle with your computer generated effects works so much better than trying to create huge dioramas. At one point Malone has some rosary beads wrapped around his fist like a religious knuckle duster, punching the undead left, right, and centre, I have to admit that part was pretty awesome. There is a bit of blood but not really that many fatalities.

There was some discussion of race to be found here, it was good to see that issue was acknowledged, but it was sidelined a bit. The more interesting aspect for me was the lingering effects of World War I on the psyche of our main lead. Malone while very corrupt has bigger demons in the form of his alcoholism which he gained while trying to combat the horrors of what he experienced in that terrible time. Flashbacks help shed light on his character so that while he is kinda irritating (as are most the characters) you do have some pity for him. On the whole there just really is no one to really like here. Malone and his men are all bullies, civilians shown are either weak boys, rednecks or prostitutes, while Chesterfield and his pack are mean from the start. Speaking of Chesterfield; Ice-T puts enough silliness in this character that he fits in with everyone else. Vampires strangely fit in well to this relatively normal, albeit stereotypical portrayal of the time period. If I had to pick a favourite character though it would be the mad priest, he had a very other the top persona and a few decent one liners, plus he is teaches the heroes how to battle the vampires. Unfortunately I don't actually know who played him so I can't give the actor a shout out!

While Bloodrunners is an entertaining film that has some cool moments overall it was often too easy to see the fabric coming apart at the seams. While enjoyable the actual horror elements take far too long to get going, and some leaps in logic speed events along rather conveniently. So not the best film you will see, but it is certainly not a waste of time if you look past the cheesiness. Bloodrunners is out on Blu-Ray/DVD (a combo pack), and Digital on 3rd March courtesy of Speakeasy Pictures and Impulse FX, extras include a commentary with director Dan Lantz, deleted and extended scenes, and a gag reel. Check out the spoilertastic trailer below...



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