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Reviews Series / Dracula 2020

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01/30/2020 17:37:49 •••

I'd Make a This Sucks Joke, But Even I Have Higher Standards Than Dracula's Writers

So, let's get the most controversial thing I can say about Dracula out of the way. The book - the seminal work of gothic horror that singlehandedly transformed pop-culture's understanding of Vampires, and produced one of the most enduring villains of all time - isn't all that good. To summarise my complaint, as soon as the story gets to Whitby, the story kind goes off the rails and Dracula switches from being a badass to a tedious pest, pursued by a gang of overpowered RPG player characters. That said, there has been many excellent adaptations of the book, and I appreciate whenever any one of them that decides to take liberties with the source material.

The BBC's 2020 adaptation of Dracula takes many liberties, but unfortunately they are all for the worse. The most apparent change is Dracula himself, who de-ages from a decrepit old monster and apparently into the protagonist from Lucifer. Not content to simply have a powerful and handsome vampire, Gatiss and Moffat dial up the camp to 11, showing us a smug, flouncing, punmeister who talks with a modern millennial affect and calls people names like "Johnny boy" in 1897. Just as we're getting over this massive neckbreaking tonal whiplash, we are introduced to our Van Helsing, via the laziest and most uninteresting twist since Moffat's last Sherlock episode. Van Helsing also communicates exclusively through annoying wafts of smug, and the first episode ends with these two mortal enemies having a sass off through a portcullis. To say Bram Stoker would be spinning in his grave would only give this show some bad ideas.

I'm probably making Dracula sound more fun than it actually is. The show is boring more than anything else, unable to be scary, funny, or half as clever as it tries to be. Each of the three 90 minute episodes manages to be bad in their own unique way, with the second being the least worst (a fleshed out account of what happens on Dracula's passage to England, playing out like a slasher movie). The third takes the cake, working from a dramatic twist that might have taken the story in an interesting direction in the hands of more capable writers, but is ultimately squandered for gags and serves no actual purpose. In the last 15 minutes of the final episode, the show goes full gonzo. It's almost worth watching on its own just to realise how tits up the show ends up. The only down side is you'd have to watch the other 4-and-a-half hours of show to get the context.

Is there anything I liked? Well there was a nice special effects scene where Dracula transforms from dog to man. I hope someday people will be able to find that on youtube, because it is neatly done, and deserves the credit. As to recommendations, I guess we're stuck with season 3 of Hannibal as the only competent vampire show that's been out in years.

01/30/2020 00:00:00

To be fair, "Johnny" isn't a new endearment of John and dates back way further than the 1890s, so it's not that weird for Dracula to use it. Otherwise a good review as always, even though I disagree with almost every point.


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