“Set in 1930s prohibition, a corrupt cop discovers that the popular speakeasy in town has been infiltrated by vampires.”
That quick description for Bloodrunners at least offers the promise of an interesting vampire flick. It fails to deliver on most of that promise. What it delivers instead is a lackluster story that at times feels like it was cobbled together from a mishmash of short film ideas that were collected and thrown into a blender to produce the final full-length product. The story strains itself trying to hold together or be fully entertaining as it offers up things like a twist – a coincidence that acts as something of a clue for our lead character – that feels so contrived it actually throws you out of the film. It’s not even the only twist of its kind in the film. The dialogue shifts back and forth from stilted to just painfully bad. The delivery of the dialogue on screen is not helped by acting that ranges from just above average to high school drama club play amateur. There’s also sometimes an annoying overabundance of dialogue due to characters talking like they’re narrating an audio story rather than talking to other people in the scenes they’re in.
What makes it all the worse is that you know that writer/director Dan Lantz understands the story possibilities that the setting offers. A little over an hour into the film a vampire explains to a human all the reasons the vampires enjoy the era of the speakeasy and prohibition. It stands out as a moment where you’re reminded of all of the interesting concepts that could have been better explored and played with in the film but weren’t.
Our film starts in Chesterfield’s, a fairly new speakeasy in town. Chesterfield (Ice-T) is leading the entertainment from the stage and encouraging the patrons to eat, drink, and be merry. In the audience are the regular locals, town officials, and a few corrupt cops like Jack Malone (Michael McFadden) who are staking the place out for an eventual shakedown.
After the opening, we get treated to various scenes establishing just what a miserable little town the vampires have taken up shop in. What few townsfolk we see not directly related to the story seem to have little care what happens in their town. The local holy man is insane, the local decades old institution is a brothel, local government officials are either clueless or on the take, and most of the police officers are on the take and enjoy whiling their evenings away either drinking it up in the speakeasy or getting it up with the ladies of the brothel. Most of these scenes drag, and they make up the majority of the first half of the film. We get one vampire sex scene and a dead body in there as well, but little else of note.
If nothing else, the film could have benefited from someone doing a heavy editing job on its first two thirds. 20 minutes of padding could have easily been excised from that section of the film’s 1 hour and 39 minute run time without damaging the story in the least. While not making it a better film, this would have probably made it a more tolerable viewing experience.
From this point on we see corrupt cops do stupid things, arrests are made, people are bitten, vampires are staked, and we have an ultimate confrontation that feels at times like it would have been a fight more at home in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. We’re also treated to a “huge” revelation for a character that ultimately means little to nothing for the story, and a resolution to a longtime issue for the same character that feels like it means even less thanks to how contrived the entire thing was.
The film also lacks any mood or atmosphere needed to create any feelings of horror. The directing was good, but not spectacular; the music very often felt as if it was in the wrong film; and the lighting made everything look almost sterile.
Was it all bad? No. The effect used to have Chesterfield turn into a swarming mass of bats was nice. The mask they created for Ice-T when Chesterfield goes full monster vampire looks like it was well done, but it also looks like it was meant to be far less brightly lit when shot. Plus, if you’re into vintage cars, there looks like what is an authentic, reconditioned Ford Model A used in the film, so you can at least entertain yourself by checking that out when the scenes it’s in start to drag a bit.
Bloodrunners is a horror film that has almost no noticeable horror in it whatsoever. Even if you try to view it more as a prohibition era, mobsters and corrupt coppers film, it feels more like a lackluster copy of a copy of a copy of the concept than it does a good film for even that genre.
Bloodrunners (1 / 5) eyeballs
Bloodrunners will be available to rent or own globally on iTunes and Steam and across the US and Canada on iTunes, Steam, Google Play, Xbox, Playstation and various cable platforms, including Comcast, Dish, Rogers and Shaw beginning March 7, 2017.