SYNOPSIS: Michelle's sister Becky is still working to free her from the weird thing she has happening with Radu, her vampire master. Maternal jealousy complicates thing, as Radu's jewelry-loving witch-mom despises Michelle and insists that she'll ruin Radu. It all leads to a big showdown at a castle again, with Romanian cop Marin and U.S. Embassyman(?) Mel returning to assist.
Again, Anders Hove. Watching this really cemented how masterfully he plays Radu, working through the makeup to deliver these weird stretchy facial expressions, like he's bringing that one painting The Scream to life. As usual, everything in the performance is spot-on, physically, line delivery, the works. Plus Radu totally looks like one of the most popular girls in my high school right here.
The Radu/Michelle storyline mostly works well. Their dynamic is really interesting, as it starts off with a master/pupil or master/slave sort of feel, then slowly transitions into the kind of vampire love story we really don't see too often. Radu gets softened by Michelle, but she appears to be getting corrupted by him. Most of the Anders Hove/Denice Duff scenes are worth your time, as we (incredibly) get genuine emotion and remorse a few times...
Plus there's a recurring gag about a terrible violinist that's pretty funny (and which is why Radu looks so sour here).
The design changes for Radu's mom are magnificent! Her face looks a little more mobile, which means we get real expressions and acting of a sort, although her smile-face is kind of reminiscent of Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder should play Mother Radu in the remake, as the groundwork has been laid.
Plus she cackles often and now adorns herself with all kinds of ostentatious grandma jewelry from whatever source counted as the ancient witch QVC. She looks hilarious and is a great character. Her hectoring of Radu about his new girlfriend is 100% tops.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK:
Here again, the non-Radu/non-Michelle stuff gets a little draggy. Ion Haiduc is back and still hilarious as bumbling Romanian LEO Marin, but the rest of the supporting characters aren't super interesting. Michelle's sister doesn't really have a lot to do, her sorta-boyfriend from the US Embassy has the same problem. There's a Rambo-like CIA guy who seems promising, but doesn't really a chance to bring the kind of ridiculousness that made the previous SUBSPECIES so memorable.
BLOODLUST definitely seems more tame in terms of the layout of shots and lighting choices. We rarely get the kind of shadowplay that made earlier SUBSPECIES(es?) so enjoyable. Most of this is shot far more conventionally, which isn't a huge issue when the story's galloping along, but when it's not, problem. Even the sets seem a little more constricted. There are repeated shots of characters looking out of a castle window, like the filmmakers really wanted to make the most of the rad window that they found in rural Romania. The castle interiors look a little shabbier than before, too. No giant lambent alchemy lab; we blew all the budget on Mrs. Radu's pearl necklace.
I'd call this a slight step down in quality from the SUBSPECIES of old, but it still yields many pleasures. As we've learned, usually horror franchises are racing rapidly into the dungpile by Part Three, so it's a credit to BLOODLUST that it's still got this much kick. This is slightly above average, so not a 5, but maybe a lower 6 than the prior two. A 6 with quantum differences.