Just once I want to watch a PG-13 horror film that isn’t a complete groan Fest. I had heard Dracula Untold was awful, but numerous friends and internet reviews. But I thought, Nah can’t be that bad. I mean Dracula, how hard can you mess that up. Sure, he’s had some disservice in the past, but there is more than a handful great ones. Still I went in with really low expectations, hoping that Dracula Untold would surprise me. It didn’t. It didn’t even try to meet my insanely low expectations.
Dracula Untold opens with a voice over telling us who Vlad the Impaler was, or at least who this fictional account was. Focusing on his being raised in the Persian army of the Ottoman Empire as part of a thousand boys taken from Transylvania. During this time he learns how to fight as well as gains his proclivity for impaling. Now a grown man Vlad Tepes (Luke Evans) is now King of Transylvania, is married to Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and the two have a young son, Ingeras (Art Parkinson). While out on patrol Vlad and a few of his men come across a helmet from a Persian scout washed down river. They follow the river to a mountain where they find a cave the Persians had taken refuge in. When the men enter to explore the cave they are quickly beset by a monster, that is feared by the people (Charles Dance). Only Vlad is able to escape the cave with his life. He goes to a local monastery where he learns the creature is a vampire, made by a man making a deal with a demon. But he’s trapped by the same bargain he made until he finds a worthy offering to the darkness. He then returns home. During the Easter Feast the Persians arrive demanding both their tribute as well as a thousand boys for the army. A practice that was supposed to have ended. Vlad goes the Persian camp where he meets with Mehmed (Dominic Cooper), the Sultan and his old friend. Vlad tries to treat with him, but fails with Mehmed demanding a thousand and one, the one being Vlad’s son. When an emissary comes to claim his son, Vlad kills them and heads to the cave where he meets with the monster. The two talk and the vampire gives Vlad his blood,, which infuses him with all his power. Power enough to defeat the Persian Army, and save his family. But if he drinks human blood before three days have passed, he will forever be cursed…
What’s awful is that’s the point where the characters stop developing and the rest of the film is nothing but mindless action. With the emphasis on the mindless. The only redeeming points during the latter half of the film is the visuals which are well done. But they’re about the only things done so.
The acting is mixed with Luke Evens doing a decent enough job with the trash he was handed. But often comes off as muted and never as the fearsome man he’s supposed to be. To much effort is placed on trying to make him a likable tragic character, in all the wrong ways. The other actor of note is Charles dance who plays the Master Vampire and nails the role. He’s everything the Dracula should be, but is relinquished to being a side character with little screen time. Which is disappointing as there are genuinely the best scenes that Dracula Untold has to offer.
The worst part of Dracula Untold has to be the plot holes and there are a ton of them. The most glaring being that Charles Dance’s character is supposed to be the first vampire. Made by a mortal man making a demonic pact, but once Vlad becomes a vampire everyone knows what vampires are, how to kill them and what their weakness are. How though? I know it shouldn’t be an issue, but it’s just so glaring it detracts from the whole film.
Final thoughts, it’s awful… but not unwatchable. You can get one viewing if you’re lucky out of it. But, Dracula Untold lacks any sort of meat to sink your teeth into, let alone any sense of dread. Which is terrible considering this is supposed to be Dracula’s origin story and the first film the universal monster reboot. 4/10