Having had the opportunity to attend the first ever screening of Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door, I can confidently say that it seems an odd choice for an upper eschelon film festival such as Tribeca to have films like Unearthed, or Rise: Blood Hunter in the lineup. Its almost like throwing AVP or the Pulse remake in there. There are better films on the horizon. Rise is more of a spectacle – a bad dream of sorts, which, as you’ve probably experienced, sometimes can be a bit of a thrill. With this being said…
Let us sleep. Deeper… Now dream. Dream of vampires. And how about, for a template, lets just take your average screenplay from the “I didn’t choose to be a vampire and now I’m pissed” section. As a victim and lead actress, who will do action and nude scenes, let’s have – yes – Lucy Liu! Now no matter where this goes, you know you’ll at least have this mouthwatering factor, and it can only get so uninteresting. Take her life and wake her up in a morgue, neither living nor dead. Give her a thirst for blood and morals she can’t leave behind, and now you’ve got a pretty good, saturday night, popcorn typa midnight horror thing goin on.
Since this is a dream, lets make it interesting. We need grit, and a violent figure of authority on the verge of exploding. How about that hot tempered guy from The Shield, Michael Chiklis. Murder his daughter in a bloodbath of a vampire feast and pair him with Liu as a detective and reporter duo bent on destroying the source that has destroyed their lives! And hell, might as well throw in Nick Lachey and Marilyn Manson – playing punks and dweebs respectively – just for oddity and irony. Like a jambalaya of faces from cable stations somehow all caught together in a pocket of short term memory as you drift off to sleep watching the late night movie of the week – its familiar and low budget yet full of polished effort and casting surprises.
Maybe its a little over verbose and dramatic to try to reflect the worth of this film in an abstract, metaphoric manner like this, but this review stands as an effigy to what Rise: Blood Hunter amounts to. It’s a low budget, average film, stylized by director Sebastian Gutierrez and cast with popular faces so as to appear and actually come off as a film with a slightly higher production value. Although the editing is choppy, like a patchwork of scenes pasted together to fit a storyline, and the gore slight – it’s an interest maintaining tale, chock full of flashing lights and shadows of the night, people thirsty for blood and even a lawn full of severed limbs, for fans of violence that need a drumstick or two to be satisfied.
Final analysis: So here’s the bottom line. It’s a buffed B-movie, and although it’s a run of the mill screenplay, the actors, cameos, and flashy direction will hold your attention. Oh – and white hot Lucy Liu? Naked! Full body shots! BUT – at angles that will tease your hungry eyes, as “vampires” don’t have reflections, and most of these fleshful moments are in front of a mirror. Aarg! It won’t win any awards, or pull in a large draw at the box office, and it wont wow anyone in any capacity. It probably should have sucked, but just doesn’t, no matter how much you want it to. James D’Arcy plays a weak villain boss, and Carla Gugino will grace audiences with a much too quick come-and-go part, while the rest all falls into place, like a finely tuned piece of mediocrity. Think of this baby like a brand new Nissan Sentra. You’ve seen them on the road probably 1000 times in your life, but drive one souped up, polished to shine, with a nice stereo system – and you’ll conveniently forget that you’ve seen it all before.