Bloodwine (2008) – By Duane L. Martin

 Bloodwine, from director Patrick Keith and Doom Bunny Films, is the story of two beautiful college girls who end up in a vampire tale neither of them ever wanted to be in.  When childhood friends Andrea (Melissa Johnson) and her old friend Brandy (Lora Meins) are thrown together once as college roommates, neither could have been happier.  Andrea is a goth-type girl who’s constantly picked on and harassed by two other girls at the college who delight in causing her grief.  She’s also treated poorly by her professor, her boyfriend just recently died and her uncle, who pretty much raised her, is currently in Romania on some research trip, which oddly enough seemed to involve vampires, though the two never actually discuss it.  Brandy has been away, but her family has just moved back and she’s really happy that fate has thrown her and her best friend together once more.

Brandy’s birthday is coming up, so Andrea goes to this high class liquor store and while there, the head vampire, Carmilla (Vanessa Leinani), has the clerk suggest to her a bottle of special brandy that she brought from Romania.  Andrea buys the bottle for her friend and takes it back to the dorm, with Carmilla thinking that the bottle was actually for Andrea.  Brandy comes home from a trip home to see her parents for the weekend, and finds herself alone in the dorm room.  Finding the bottle, she decides to take a drink, and then proceeds to puke up the turkey sandwich she had been eating and basically passes out on the floor.  Fortunately, for Andrea, she also broke the bottle in the process.  Yes folks, after that she became a vampire.  Thing is, she wasn’t your typical vampire.  She started going after the people who had been mean to Andrea and killing them off one by one.  When Andrea finds out what’s going on however, she flees to her uncle’s house to try to sort things out.  Brandy follows and there’s a rather unpleasant situation that occurs between the two, but I won’t spoil that here.

Now for the review bit…

What we have here is a very good, very well made film…with a few problems.  Technically, the film was quite well done.  It had good camera work, some great special effects (that many film makers could learn from because they were simple but really cool effects that can be done cheaply or at no cost), the sound was really good, the music was excellent and matched well with the content of the film, and generally the film had a great look to it.

The two stars of the film were both really gorgeous, and the clothing, hair styling and make-up only accentuated that.  The guy who played the professor actually looked and dressed like a professor and Andrea’s uncle perfectly fit the right image both in physical appearance and dress for the character he was playing.  Basically, the casting, costume design, hair styling and make-up were all just spot on.

The story, while well written and beautifully acted, really brought nothing new to the genre, except for one thing.  The head vampire chick somehow managed to keep her heart in a jar outside her body instead of in her chest, so when Andrea staked her at the beginning of the movie, nothing happened.  Yes, it was the beginning.  The rest of the movie is a flashback to the six months prior.  The only real problem I have with the story, other than it being fairly unoriginal, is that I felt like too much time was spent on some of the early scenes where Brandy and Andrea were reminiscing about stuff they did together when they were growing up.  It was good to have that, because it really established the characters and their friendship, but much of it just seemed unimportant and like it was dragging on too long.  If they had discussed some more pivotal points in their friendship and there were one or two moments in their lives that had cemented their friendship forever, it would have seemed to have had more relevance.  In any case, I started losing interest because of how long it went on (or felt like it was going on), but once past that, I snapped right back into it.

There’s one other technical issues, one story issue, and one side issue with this film that I’d like to mention.  These are just things that didn’t work for me or that I’d have liked to have seen done differently, and as I write this stuff, please don’t think I didn’t like this film, because I really did like it and it was a really well written and well made film.  These are just things I’d have liked to have seen done differently.

The first is that there were some CGI effects that looked kinda hokey.  Like the part when it started storming outside at night.  I mean, it looked ok, but it looked fake as well.  I would have rather just had a sound effect of thunder or something to set the mood.  I think that would have worked better to set the mood than the actual visual effect.

As for the other story issue, I would have liked to have seen the head vampire chick utilized more.  As it ended up, she was a minor side character at best, and only had a couple of scenes that were more involved.  I think it might have worked better if Andrea and Brandy had tried to kill her in order to free Brandy from the curse.  At least that would have given a chance to save Brandy and to involve the head vampire more in the story.

Lastly, there was the placement of the Doom Bunny Films logo…all throughout the film.  Once or twice would have been cute, because it is a really cool logo character, but it was all over the place.  It was on television as a puppet on an Elvira-like horror film show, it was on clothing, Andrea had a stuffed animal of it, which she later set on her boyfriend’s grave, etc…  It just became oppressive after a while and started to detract from the film itself because it was so obvious.  I can see where when making this film, that probably seemed pretty fun to get that in there all over the place, but it really does become so obvious that it also becomes old very quickly.

Now, all that said, I want to re-iterate that this really was a good film.  I point these things out because they’re things that need to be said that other people who aren’t reviewers may not tell the film makers.  My intention isn’t to slam the film, it’s to give the film maker some things to think about as they make their future films.  That goes not just for this review, but for any review I write.  So hopefully my comments will be taken in that spirit by those of you who read this.

I enjoyed this film and was really impressed by the quality of acting I saw in its two stars.  There was a naturalness to their relationship that really did make you feel like they were old friends, and that relationship you feel between them only serves to draw you further into the story and actually makes you care what happens to these girls.  That is the result of great dialogue, and great acting, and these girls pulled it off beautifully.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this film to anyone.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the film’s website at http://www.bloodwinemovie.com, or you can check out its MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/bloodwinemovie.