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Blood and Chocolate Reviews

German director Katja Von Garnier's supernatural fantasy for teenage girls who like their werewolves buff and hairless is deeply silly and vaguely sexy, in an oddly chaste look-but-don't-touch kind of way. Though based on Annette Curtis Klause's popular young-adult tale about a 16-year-old werewolf coming of age in a sleepy Maryland suburb, prefab genre screenwriters Ehren Kruger and Christopher Langdon systematically defanged the novel's thorny insights into adolescent turmoil, faulty parenting, virulent peer pressure and the causal cruelty of dreamy boys. What's left when they're done is a not very interesting variation on Romeo and Juliet in which wolfgirl Vivian (Agnes Bruckner), whose age has been upped to something legal (not that it really matters, because she never does anything with anyone), falls for haunted, sensitive "meat-boy" (that's pack-speak for a full-blooded human) Aiden (Hugh Dancy), an artist/writer researching a graphic-novel fantasy about the loups-garoux — werewolves. The trouble is that Vivian, who spent her childhood in America before being brought back to the old country — Romania — has tribal obligations. Orphaned when her parents and brothers were slaughtered by angry Americans, her maternal aunt, Astrid (Katja Riemann, star of Von Garnier's 1997 BANDITS), raised her in Bucharest among her own kind. The leader of their pack, smoldering Gabriel (Olivier Martinez), is on the prowl for a new mate and has his eye on Vivian. Vivian isn't interested in being an alpha bitch, but custom demands that if she's chosen, she must serve. The moon-crossed lovers sneak around Bucharest's decorative back streets in hopes of escaping detection, but Vivian's possessive cousin Rafe (Bryan Dick) — Gabriel and Astrid's defiant son — and his posse of bad boys appoint themselves guardians of Vivian's lupine virtue. No good can come of this, and none does. A far cry from such sneakily subversive werewolf-sex tales as THE COMPANY OF WOLVES (1984) or GINGER SNAPS (2000), this pallid little picture is all LOST BOYS (1987) posturing by way of the sublimely ridiculous COVENANT (2006). It's very pretty, from the handsomely distressed Romanian locations to the Abercrombie and Fitch-catalog pack of wolfboys who, inner hairiness notwithstanding, look as though they spend most of their time coordinating vaguely Byronic outfits. But there's something out of whack when a movie designed to pander to starry-eyed tweener fantasies about cute boys only comes to life when 40-year-old Olivier Martinez — remember, he plays the dad — strides into the room.