Film Review – Dracula Untold

Dracula Untold (MA)

Directed by: Gary Shore

Starring: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon

Two and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright

 

After the tweenification of the vampire lore via the popular and toothless Twilight series, Dracula Untold aims to get back to the blood sucking basics. It exchanges the glitter for gore and Bella for bats to explain how Dracula came to be the undying character that novelist Bram Stoker created all those years ago. But despite the attempts to bring gravitas to the transformation from man to monster, Dracula Untold forgets one key point: make it interesting and compelling.

When Prince Vlad Tepes’ (Luke Evans) kingdom and family is threatened by his power-hungry rival Mehmed (Dominic Cooper), he turns to a cave-dwelling creature (Charles Dance) to help him stand up to his enemy and save his people. Vlad is given the strength of 100 men for three days, the only catch is that he will thirst for human blood and if he succumbs, he will be sunlight and silver sensitive for eternity.

His self-sacrifice is something he and his devoted wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) must deal with and come to terms with, but when the village people find out about his new status, they are not so appreciative. Vlad finds his number of enemies rising exponentially, but his biggest one yet could be this new curse.

All the ingredients for a good film seem to be here: solid script with appropriately high stakes that avoids lame one-liners, attention and time given to character development and a director that treats proceedings like a serious, gothic horror film. However, none of this seems to pay off with a disastrously dull opening 20 minutes, murky special effects cloaked in even murkier cinematography and a general lack of flair in telling the story.

The occasional action sequences, that serve to break up the drama, are almost incoherent with choppy editing, almost non-existent lighting and a flurry of a colony of bats that conceals the action rather than elevates it. After this bungled attempt at bringing the spooky drama back to vampires, some may be begging for a Twilight return.

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