Rise: Blood Hunter: Unrated Undead Sebastian Gutierrez

Rise: Blood Hunter: Unrated Undead Sebastian Gutierrez
Why is it so hard to make a good vampire flick? There’s been nary a good one since 1987 peaked with both The Lost Boys and Near Dark (Blade is so action-oriented that it hardly qualifies), and yet there are so many out there leaving a bad taste in the mouth. Rise: Blood Hunter has received some surprisingly positive reviews, but I don’t see it. It treads the same sexualised and stylish ground that virtually every vampire flick has adhered to since The Hunger. This one even pinches the same attack method that Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie utilised — for shame! Lucy Liu gives a wooden performance as Sadie Black, an L.A. reporter on the trail of a hot story involving missing persons in the city’s seedy underbelly. She’s captured by the people she’s investigating, then raped and turned. Disoriented and alone, Sadie turns her purpose into a quest for vengeance, which as impossible as it should be for a petite woman untrained in combat, is somehow easy-as-pie in a Die Hard (literally) kind of manner. Liu is absurdly cold as the vampire/vigilante but isn’t as irksome as Bishop (James D’Arcy), who annoys as the leader of the bloodsucking pack. (Why does every villainous vampire have to be a bloody Englishman?) Michael Chiklis is unfortunately thrown in for good measure as a clichéd renegade cop searching for his lost daughter, who happens to resurface as a creature of the night. What will he do? Add to that some laughable cameos by Marilyn Manson and Nick Lachey, and we’ve got a party going on. As revealed in the featurette, Gutierrez’s focus is on portraying "a tug of war between sex and murder,” which Rise certainly achieves with its abundance of flesh and blood. However, it’s an ambiguous affair that loses anyone looking for the big bads Buffy faces or strict rules (i.e., avoid daylight, which Sadie doesn’t, appearing fine with a pair of shades on). The director is vague about the vampiric hunting tactics, which can be seen as either a positive or a negative. (I vote the latter. An arrow through the heart gets dull after the second kill!) Gutierrez doesn’t appear for a commentary, likely because he didn’t want to watch it a second time. The meagre special features include a couple of featurettes, one of which reveals the only thing of interest on this DVD: the advice that shaving cream removes fake blood better than anything. Good to know. (Sony)