Dracula Untold should have stayed that way

by Mark Burger

Bram Stoker’s most famous character is down for the count in Dracula Untold, a thoroughly silly medieval muddle whose tale is one that is best left untold.

It’s the conjecture of Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless’ origin story that the 15th-century Transylvanian prince sold his soul so that he could transform into a swarm of CGI bats in order to repel the invading Turkish forces. Under the daft hand of first-time feature director Gary Shore, Dracula Untold takes itself very, very seriously for no reason whatsoever.

This shapeless, misguided attempt to revamp the Dracula legend (no pun intended) is more concerned with clanking armor and crossed swords than the traditional fang work. In exploring the “historical” aspect of the tale and emphasizing the grand-scale action, the horror elements are left by the wayside “” isn’t that what Dracula fans want?

Handsome Luke Evans glowers and broods as the black-clad, perfectly coiffed Vlad, and lives up to his reputation as an impaler, at least as much as the confines of a PG-13 rating will allow. Dominic Cooper preens and sneers as his Turkish nemesis, Sarah Gadon is the very picture of delicate beauty as Vlad’s wife, Marina, and Charles Dance (always welcome, even in these circumstances) plays the ancient, wizened, cave-dwelling bloodsucker who bestows the powers of the undead upon mad Vlad.

The body count is fairly high but the level of interest is fairly low. Dracula Untold qualifies as a spectacle, though not the kind the filmmakers’ intended. It might not be the worst Dracula movie, but it’s much closer to the bottom of the crypt than the top.