EmptyRise: Blood Hunter
Destination Films/ Samuel Goldwyn Films
NEW YORK — It's a little mysterious as to why the Tribeca Film Festival decided to include "Rise: Blood Hunter" in its roster, considering it's the sort of routine horror flick that opens week after week without even being screened for the press. That said, this Lucy Liu starrer about an intrepid reporter who becomes the victim of vampires and rises from the dead to track down the sect that killed her contains definite B-movie pleasures that are enhanced by the stylish direction of Sebastian Gutierrez (who also scripted) and a first-rate cast.
Tracking down a story about the murder of a local cop's (Michael Chiklis) daughter, reporter Sadie Blake (Liu) becomes a victim at the hands of a pair of particularly sexy vampires (James D'Arcy, Carla Gugino). Waking up in a drawer at the morgue, Sadie — now, of course, a vampire — decides to seek revenge even while needing to fulfill her newfound thirst for blood.
Thus begins a series of graphically violent encounters, with Sadie efficiently dispatching her nemeses with a crossbow and sending them off with such declarations as "See you in hell!" (Male viewers will enjoy the frequent opportunities for ogling because she is consistently forced to remove her bloody garments.) Eventually, she winds up in an uneasy partnership with the grief-stricken cop, whose re-union with his supposedly dead daughter goes less well than he might have hoped.
It's all pretty familiar stuff, but the handsome visual style and the committed performances by the uncommonly impressive cast help it rise above the usual level of schlock horror efforts. The film, which includes a cameo by Robert Forster as a would-be victim, also marks the last screen appearance of the distinguished Japanese actor Mako, here playing the vampires' loyal manservant.