Review: Dracula – The Dark Prince / Cert: 15 / Director: Pearry Reginald Teo / Screenplay: Nicole Jones, Steven Paul, Pearry Reginald Teo / Starring: Luke Roberts, Jon Voight, Kelly Wenham, Ben Robson / Release Date: February 3rd
While there have been countless reinterpretations and reimaginings of the Dracula story over the years, few have exuded quite such a pervading sense of pointlessness as this one.
In the 15th century, Drac (Roberts) successfully repels the invading Turks only to return to find his castle in the grip of an insurrection that culminates in the murder of his wife. After swiftly despatching the assassins, he renounces God and all his works, and for this is cursed to live for eternity as a vampire. Cut to a hundred or so years later, and one Leonardo Van Helsing (Voight), along with two warrior women under his tutelage, hooks up with a wayward young thief and his band of merry outlaws to take the fight to the Dark Prince and his sinister cohorts. A suicide mission, one might think, but they possess the one thing in the world that the vampire lord fears in the form of the Lightbringer – the staff that Cain used to kill Abel in biblical days of yore. And, lo! Not only does it transpire that the young thief is a direct descendent of the mythical Cain, but that Drac is the descendant of Abel. Erm, hang on a minute...
The above synopsis doesn't even begin to express what complete gibberish the script of this obviously DTV offering is. But it's all in the execution, right? Right. Except the execution of this convoluted mess is flawed on about every possible level one can imagine. With his long, flowing blond locks and Fighting Fantasy armour, Luke Roberts seems more of a Castlevania conception of Dracula than anything remotely inspired by Stoker's novel. Which maybe wouldn't be such a bad thing if he wasn't about as threatening as Harry Hill, possessing all the dark charisma and sexual magnetism of Alan Partridge. And he doesn't get much to do besides moon around his unrealistic castle, its exteriors represented via the medium of Xbox CGI. Said castle also has, erm, a cloaking device.
Anyone who can manage to get past the first 15 minutes of this will spend the remainder asking 'Why?' Why does what is presumably supposed to be 16th or 17th century Wallachia look like the dark ages? Why would Vlad be the descendent of Abel? Why the hell is John Voight in this? And why did someone think we wanted to see a bad sword-and-sorcery 'prequel' to a classic horror fable?
It's dubious as to whether any of the three (!) writers of this even read Stoker's novel before embarking on this travesty. From the evidence on display their 'research' extended to viewing Coppola's '92 film on DVD, and perhaps only the first ten minutes of that before they started talking shop or arguing over who ate the last Dorito. If you do happen to find yourself fancying a bit of iffy S&S (let's face it, we all do sometimes), with stagy sets and the occasional gratuitous flash of T&A, you'd be far better advised to dig out your old copy of Deathstalker II.
Dracula: The Dark Prince - coming soon to the bargain bin of your local Morrison's.