Dracula Review - Lazy writing invokes more chuckles than scares

Dracula Review - Lazy writing invokes more chuckles than scares
Movie Rated

Most of the television and film adaptations of literary classics have been done to death and Bram Stoker's Dracula is no different. Talking about adaptations being done to death, the same can be said about Sherlock Holmes, the world's favourite detective and that must be why the makers decided to choose yet another literary classic to adapt to suit the contemporary audiences.

Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have found a way to take often-used and referenced characters and make them feel fresh and new, employing a killer combination of wittiness, editing, and perhaps most importantly of all, casting. However, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss failed when they tried to replicate their Sherlock magic with Bram Stoker’s Dracula as the result was highly disappointing.

Dracula stars Danish actor Claes Bang as the Count. The first two episodes of Dracula are set in the late 1800s and follow the interviews and investigations of Agatha Van Helsing (Dolly Wells) as she confronts and combats her undead and fanged foe. Both episodes bear a trace of the investigative nature of Sherlock; much of their runtime is dedicated to Van Helsing interviewing first Jonathan Harker (John Heffernan) and then the monster himself to get an understanding for how vampires operate. In the second episode, Dracula (Claes Bang) himself plays the role of false detective.

The lion’s share of Dracula’s focus falls on the character of Sister Agatha (played by Dolly Wells), then her great-great niece in the modern-day episode, Zoe (also played by Wells). She is revealed to be a Van Helsing and is this story’s version of the Dutch doctor who helps to bring down Dracula. She’s not a bad character, although Moffat has always had issues when it comes to writing women characters. The issue with her is that she takes up so much of the three episodes’ spotlight that the other characters, both new and from the original book, cannot help but suffer as a result.

Mina Murray, the fiancée of Jonathan Harker, is reduced to a mostly silent figure who does little but cry and make one especially stupid decision at the end of the first and only episode she really appears in. Given how crucial Mina is to the novel and how striking a female character she is, the adaptation proved particularly disappointing here. Jonathan fares better, but the build-up the episode gives us in showing the trauma he deals with is quickly dismissed in the second episode.

At the end of the second episode, Dracula awakens from his underwater slumber and crawls onto the beach at Whitby, only to find that he's been sleeping for 123 years and has woken up in 2020. The sudden introduction of comedy is bound to throw off several literary fans off the track as this twist is an example of lazy writing.

The next seasons can perhaps show Dracula trying to find a Missus on Tinder, ordering food via food delivery apps or booking an Uber to hunt down his next prey! The 'twist' in the tale have robbed the show of its 'horror'. Even the scenes with the fly moving across the eye and the peeled fingernail fail to invoke any blood-curdling screams. We totally understand creative liberties but the makers have not been able to justify this gimmick as the end result is a show with banal plots.

Rating: 2/5

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