We Dougray Scott fans are used to disappointment. We've seen our man suited up for Wolverine and then de-clawed when Joo Woo couldn't bring in a movie on time, we've seen him so close to becoming Bond that he actually talked about it with the press -- what a Bond he could have been, too: snarling, Scottish orphan grown into an ice-water assassin -- and we've seen him reduced to bill-paying roles in films like Dark Water and Ever After. But hope springs eternal -- another chance at glory will come this October, when he takes on the bad guy role in the much-anticipated film Hitman. At this late stage of the game, I can't imagine he'd let an opportunity like that fly by without swinging hard for the fences, so buy your tickets early. Until then, we must make do with Perfect Creature, a direct-to-DVD feature being released today. As far as these things go, the film, a vampire story set in a fantasy version of New Zealand, is actually not all that bad.
Opening the action of the film are some lovely shots of zeppelins cutting across a moonlit sky; the world below is a Proyasian mish-mash of styles and eras, with thoroughly modern police detectives interacting with a Dickensian city panicked by the possibility of Influenza. The technology seems to have evolved along an alternate timeline; we get a completely random mixture of present-day gadgets mixed with what looks like vintage equipment. The film's vampires -- they prefer the term 'brothers' -- were born in some genetic freak event hundreds of years ago, and now co-exist among humans as a powerful minority sect who long ago wove themselves into the fabric of the predominant religion and have carefully honed their status as behind-the-scenes political players. They don't kill anyone, nor can they themselves be killed, although they do eventually die of old age, apparently. The problems begin when one of their own goes off the reservation and begins targeting humans. They try to bring him down themselves, but fail, prompting human cops to get involved.
Dialogue is the film's Achilles' heel; the exposition is laid on thick as molasses and it's a testament to the visual presentation and the charisma of Scott and female lead Saffron Burrows, as one of the investigating officers, that my attention was maintained. Another problem is the main villain, played by Leo Gregory. It's not that he's terribly conceived, there's just no sense of menace or power and I'm not sure if his motivations are even properly spelled out, given some things that happen in the third act. I'm told that Jonathan Rhys Meyers was originally signed to this role and was forced to pull out at the last minute -- I can't help thinking that was probably a missed opportunity for the film. While I'm in a complaining mood, I'll also point out how unnecessarily sexless the film is -- Scott's and Burrows' characters are perfectly aligned as love interests, yet there's never any interspecies mingling between his vampire character and her cop character. Perhaps they will follow this DVD with an Unrated DVD that will clear up this matter.
In fact, I think co-mingling is the whole point to all of this -- the 'perfect creature' of the film's title is some kind of hybrid vampire and human, although this is, frustratingly, not spelled out very clearly. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the perfect creature would be ostensibly human, without a vampire's thirst or guilt-over-biting-people complex, and would instead simply live forever. Best of both worlds, and all that. I could be totally wrong about that, but a lot of narrative is crammed into a short running time, so feel free to yell at me if I got it wrong. The ending of the film is an incredibly presumptuous ad for a sequel, which the director seems to think is inevitable. I don't share that opinion, but if Perfect Creature does get a sequel, and it stars Scott, I will probably give it a whirl. There are certainly interesting elements here to play around with. For the sequel, let's have a much-increased budget, a better villain, and some nudity.