You know it's bad when a remake of an already bad movie is twice as horrible as its predecessor. The only memorable thing about the original was seeing Alyssa Milano distance herself from her good-girl TV persona by playing an innocent college good-girl that bares it all. While it failed to be a decent vampire flick or anything remotely resembling a horror picture, at the least the plot touched on some interesting ideas about sexuality and self-discovery, enjoying the image of the vampire as a figure of liberated, uninhibited and guilt-free sexual desire. However, that's about the extent of any appreciable quality to be found in the 1995 movie which was quite the rage at the time, making it a popular hit on home video.
In this mind-numbing snore-fest, the filmmakers try to touch on similar themes as the chaste and terribly timid Charlotte (Sharon Hinnendael) is continuously pressured to come out of her sheltered existence while adjusting to her new college life. It's only the first week of school, and she's already tormented by disturbing but sensually erotic visions. She sometimes wakes up in the most unexpected places and dreams of either a co-player from the fencing team or her English Lit professor (Victor Webster), who for some unexplained reason teaches more about monsters than anything related to literature. Yet, in spite of all this, we never feel sorry for Charlotte or much care for her ordeal.
In fact, there's very little worth caring about in any of the characters surrounding our supposed heroine — they could all die, and actually they do, but it has zero effect on the direction of the narrative. Charlotte's dorm roommate Nicole (Kaniehtiio Horn) is the caring and understanding friend but does absolutely nothing to help when Charlotte is clearly having problems. Ryan Kennedy provides a likeable love-interest as Chris, the guy who might save Charlotte from her dangerously erotic dreams, but only ends up being fodder to the mostly unseen bloodsucker. Robert Moloney is Charlotte's advisor, but he, too, is blind to his student's needs. Arguably, the most absurdly laughable is the competitive tension within the fencing team where the captain (Olivia Cheng) forces freshmen to a disgustingly humiliating hazing ritual, aided by Nicole's callous-for-absolutely-no-reason-friend Eliza (C.C. Sheffield).
In a desperate attempt to needlessly complicate the plot, the script introduces a twist to the original by claiming Charlotte comes from a family bloodline that vampires having been coveting for centuries. This revelation connects to the movie's opening prologue and made available to us by Keegan Connor Tracy as Daciana, an eccentric gypsy-like woman with an Eastern European accent. (Why point out those trivial details? Who knows but apparently, the filmmakers think it makes the story seem less stupid. Which it doesn't.) This added information also explains why Charlotte has been singled out by the vampire, whose identity is kept secret until a pivotal moment in the hopes of creating mystery and suspense. Disclosing any further details would not only reveal how idiotic the film actually is but would also be considered as spoilers.
Ultimately, this direct-to-video remake of a pretty-much forgotten direct-to-video movie is downright pointless and deadly tedious. It's more an effort to watch it — a battle against drowsiness or a desire to drown out the asinine dialogue with the vacuum — than it is to write about it. From Carl Bessai, whose 'Sisters & Brothers' was another disappointment, 'Embrace of the Vampire (2013)' is really nothing more than an excuse to have young actresses bare their breasts, going so far as to include an explicit scene where Charlotte experiments with her bi-curious side. Even the so-called horror visuals are ridiculously lame and boring, but if naked women are enough for you, then this vampire-less flick will satisfy.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Starz and Anchor Bay Entertainment brings 'Embrace of the Vampire (2013)' to Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack. A Region A locked, BD25 disc is accompanied by a DVD-5 on the opposing panel of a blue, eco-cutout case. After several skippable trailers, viewers are greeted by an animated menu screen of a pentagram necklace and music.
Coming directly from an HD source, 'Vampire' embraces Blu-ray with a squeaky-clean and highly-detailed 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. Textures on clothing and the faces of the cast are distinct, and individual hairs are sharp. Fine lines along trees and leaves are plain and well defined. You can make out each brick and pockmark on the cement walls of the school while the tiniest blemish and blotch of the teacher's cabin is made bare and discrete. Colors are richly saturated and bold with primaries looking particularly vibrant, and skin tones have a nice, natural hue to them. Black levels are inky with penetrating shadows that add dimensionality and excellent detailing within the darkest portions of the frame.
However, despite several highly admirable positives in the 1.78:1 image, the high-def transfer still comes with that unattractive, sterile digital look. Much of the picture feels lifeless, yet some interior scenes show possible attempts at changing the overall palette with warm yellows and oranges. Contrast is comfortably bright and balanced, but it, too, adds to the cold, grayish overtone in the cinematography that reminds of standard television viewing. I also detected tiny, negligible hints of banding in the shadows of a few scenes. In the end, it lacks a pleasing film-like quality and feels every bit like a direct-to-video production.
The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is a bit more impressive, but only by a small margin. The design surprises with several moments of good directionality, as effects move discretely from the front to the back with ease. Very subtle atmospherics during quieter segments expand the soundfield with satisfying envelopment, and the musical score lightly bleeds into the surrounds when the opportunity arises. The mid-range is fairly dynamic and detailed though not especially extensive, yet imaging is wide and welcoming with excellent channel separation and precise, well-prioritized vocals in the center. The low-end is probably the most shocking, with many moments that hit hard and deep, providing appreciable depth to the music and serious punch to the action.
This is a bare-bones release.
Amazingly, 'Embrace the Vampire (2013)' is worse than the already bad original on which it's based on, which basically begs the question as to why redo it in the first place other than a lack of an original creative thought. From Carl Bessai, this direct-to-video remake of a pretty-much forgotten direct-to-video movie is downright pointless and deadly tedious, serving no other purpose than to have young actresses get naked. The Blu-ray arrives with an excellent audio and video presentation but still has its share of negligible issues. Ultimately, this bare-bones release is only for the most curious of horror fans and those who remember the original 1995 movie that starred a grown-up Alyssa Milano.