Director: Gary Shore
Starring: Luke Evans, Charles Dance, Dominic Cooper
Release Date: October 2nd 2014, Universal Pictures
Just when you’d thought you’d seen enough vampire movies to last an eternity, here comes Dracula Untold. The newest film, by director Gary Shore, stars Luke Evans as the titular immortal being. Dracula, as known in legend and fiction, is the most infamous vampire; the Prince of Darkness. In this film, we explore how that legend came to be as the film attempts to bridge the gap between Vlad the Impaler, a historical 15th century Romanian warrior who defended the Wallachia against the Turks, and the villain at the centre of Bram Stokers most famous literary work: Count Dracula.
Vlad Tepes, played by Luke Evans, is presented to us as a feared warrior turned family man and do-gooder whose dream of running a peaceful kingdom is threatened by the Turks and their leader, Sultan Mehmed II, played by Dominic Cooper. To protect his family and his kingdom, Vlad seeks help from the shadowy “jagged tooth mountain” and its mysterious occupant, played by Charles Dance, for the strength to defeat them. The two quickly strike a deal and Vlad leaves the mountain with god-like powers, an aversion to silver and sunlight and only three days before it becomes permanent.
It is unfortunate that this film is plagued with flaws, feeling awkward and disjointed. Its many zoom shots and angles resemble those that would likely be found in a midday soapie or lifetime drama special. A pinnacle moment in the film, one we will not name for the sake of spoilers, had the audiences sniggering and snickering in their seats instead of being shocked or saddened, due to its poor and messy camera handling. In action scenes, there is little improvement, battle scenes seem a wasted jumble of chaotic camera angles and quick shots that make the fight choreography hard to watch and impossible to determine which blow came from where and from who.
The performances were mediocre and underwhelming at best with the exception of Charles Dance who plays the vampiric presence that Vlad first encounters in the mountain. He is almost unrecognisable under a heavy layer of prosthetic make-up, adding some much-needed maliciousness to the light, safe-playing horror film. While it is not Luke Evan’s best piece to date, he provides an intense performance that oozes charisma and strength but unfortunately does not enable him to come any closer to those astounding actors who have portrayed Dracula over the decades.
The Sultan, played by Dominic Cooper, failed to provide any real threat to the film and became nothing more than a man with a tan and a bad accent. Sarah Gadon, as Vlads wife, and Art Parkinson, as Vlads son, were the most underwhelming and unwatchable of the cast.
The major flaw of the film is it’s overall feel. It lacks passion and as a horror film, is substantially light and will disappoint anyone looking for a scary film. The visual effects are not astounding or special and the story feels stripped down. It’s an underwhelming debut from the first-time director and somewhat seems like the film was only made for its possible modern-day sequel that is set up at the end.
A bloodless attempt at a supernatural superhero movie.