Dracula: The Dark Prince (2014)

Have you ever heard of Dracula? No? Well, he’s this mythical vampire…

Okay, I am presuming you’re not one of the three people on the planet who hasn’t read Bram Stoker’s classic or watched one of the many many adaptations. Whether the famous Bela Lugosi or Gary Oldman incarnations, the recent Jonathan Rhys Meyers TV version or even the lovingly mocked one that Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran into in 2000, this is a character so overused he’s already appearing in 5 different movies in 2014 (one – hilariously – called “Dracula Untold”. Good luck with that)!

Having appeared in over 300 film and television episodes, when a new adaptation or re-imagining of Dracula appears it needs to be something special. Or at least different, like the up-and-coming Irish horror-comedy “Christmas at Dracula’s”…

So, is Dracula: The Dark Prince something special or at least different? Unfortunately not. Although not hugely faithful to any source material, Dracula: The Dark Prince is set in the past, features Van Helsing, has some naked female-vampire bitches and an incarnation of Dracula that you’ve probably seen a dozen times before.

The story? Dracula (Luke Roberts) was once a good man, but when his one-true-love was murdered by a bunch of misguided priests, Dracula went nuts and – for some reason – literally turned evil and immortal. This is played out in a smartly done animated opening, mixed with live action, and gets to the crux of the story quickly.

Jumping forward a few years and people now want Dracula dead. He’s evil and keeps kidnapping people to get naked and be his slaves. There is – apparently, and for no discernable reason – only one way to destroy Dracula. How? With the same weapon Cain killed Abel with. A stick called “The Lightbringer”…which is plainly ridiculous, since it was the first murder weapon and wielded out of jealousy and hate.

Leonardo Van Helsing (Jon Voight) has been searching for this weapon for years, but the moment his protégés Alina (Kelly Wenham) and Esme (Holly Earl) get hold of it, a band of cheeky – surprisingly-non-rapey – thieves steal it…

…and quickly discover that The Lightbringer also brings darkness. Violence, kidnap, sexual assault, the formation of a hero, the occasional nipple-flash and more violence ensues as Dracula: The Dark Prince goes down the exact route you’d expect.

Dracula: The Dark Prince is not badly acted. Everyone does well with the poor material they have to use. The leading ladies Kelly Wenham and Holly Earl do especially well in thankless roles, but quickly get eclipsed by their male counterparts. Jon Voight cleverly hides under a ridiculous prosthetic nose and Luke Roberts version of Dracula is the straight-up hypnotic, weird, sexual predator freak you’ve seen more mocked than played-straight in the past couple of decades. He’s convincing, if anything.

Dracula: The Dark Prince feels more like an elongated television episode than a movie, with rudimentary direction and scripting from Pearry Reginald Teo (also written by Nicole Jones and Steven Paul) that is certainly functional and enjoyable, but – essentially – absolutely pointless. Tonally it feels like a kid’s film, then a dark drama, then a Lord of the Rings-esque fantasy, then a sexy horror. It has shades of Games of Thrones mixed in too. It is all over the place, and just ends up feeling confused and bizarre.

So is it worth watching? Well, it’s not horrible or unwatchable or laughably acted, but the story and lack of originality and sense will put off many viewers immediately. Probably best reserved for Dracula completists (who have to watch everything featuring The Dark Prince) or devoted Jon Voight enthusiasts (!?), Dracula: The Dark Prince is an easily forgotten, needless adaptation of a battered classic.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.