OUR FINAL entry into the Dracula reboot section looking back at Universal Horror movies is the most recent.
In this instance, the idea was to go back and tell an origin story (Will they ever learn?) behind Cinema’s most infamous villain.
Unofficially, this film is part of the ‘new Universal Horror’ franchise, but not necessarily part of the merged universe at this stage.
Universal Pictures definitely want to go all out with the release of The Mummy starting Tom Cruise, which is set to land mid-way through the year.
And whether or not Dracula makes another appearance down the track Dracula Untold marks a turning point for the film production company that allows them to bring ‘their’ monsters to a new generation.
When the movie was first being tauted, Alex Proyas had been listed to direct with the title, Dracula: Year Zero, which I can only have been a cross between Batman Begins and The Crow.
That would have been an interesting premise.
As it stands though, the title changed and directorial duties fell to Gary Shore.
Yeah, we’ve never heard of him either, but he does share the birthplace of Dublin with the creator of Dracula, Bram Stoker, and he has since gone on to direct a short segment as part of the feature, Holidays.
Essentially we see Vlad, protect his lands from the Turkish Empire, only to need to defend his people once more when he refuses to give up his son and 1,000 other boys to said Empire.
It’s a moment that furies the Sultan, played by Dominic Cooper, who looks like he’s loving the opportunity to play the villain of the piece.
So, Vlad has to turn to a chance encounter, Charles Dance living in a mountain, who is evil incarnate and as we know it the true darkness, a vampire that would turn Vlad into the infamous Count Dracula that we know and love today.
If Vlad can resist the need to feed, he will return as normal within 3 days, but as we all know that won’t happen or the legend will never begin.
Tragedy will strike and it will involve his family, the only things that tie Vlad to this world.
The film is unequivocally carried by Luke Evans as Dracula with his charismatic charms and devotion to his family.
Plus he’s ripped as fuck, which helps.
There are some support roles that would suggest the casting agent spooled through the Game of thrones cast, with the likes of Charles Dance, Paul Kaye, and Art Parkinson all playing significant roles, but all of them can’t help to disguise the lack in plot and storyline, and the absence of depth in the characters.
It feels like a paint by numbers piece, but instead of paint, the filmmakers are using state of the art CGI for their palette.
It’s all style, no substance and one can only wonder what the movie would look like if Luke Evans weren’t there to push the momentum forward.
And with an open ending, Universal definitely had great plans for this franchise.
But with a poor critical reaction to the release, it doesn’t bode well, unless The Mummy can unravel all the criticism that came about and bring Dracula back from the dead.
I guess we’ll find out in June.
- Paul Farrell