A number of bicultural filmmakers — think Ang Lee and Mira Nair — found their early success delving deep into their heritages and serving up exotic films for American consumption, even if they did so out of practical considerations like lower production costs overseas and foreign film grants.
Filipino American writer-director Francis dela Torre does sort of the opposite with "Blood Ransom," creating something passably American but seeming to aim primarily at a Filipino audience. More than anything, the film plays like a vanity project for Filipino entertainer Anne Curtis, making her American movie debut.
"Blood Ransom" is a vampire flick straight out of the Anne Rice-Stephenie Meyer school, about a newly converted bloodsucker (Curtis) caught in a love triangle with her evil overlord (Caleb Hunt) and human savior (Alexander Dreymon). In a parallel police-procedural narrative, a Filipino American cop (Darion Basco) becomes the prime murder suspect because he shares the ethnicity of the vampires' victims — in present-day West Covina, of all places.
Dela Torre tinkers with some of the undead's best-known traits, yet his reinvented wheel still feels like a retread. Devoid of any fascination with the death-or-immortality dilemma, the mythology merely functions as shorthand in an underdeveloped story.
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes