Last Christmas, I gave Dracula my heart. The BBC brought the godfather of horror stories back on TV screens. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, the creators of the brilliantly rewritten 2010 Sherlock TV series, came up with this all-new Dracula. But does it really make your blood freeze? Read on and find out…
When my English husband read me Lucy Mangan’s review of Dracula in The Guardian, I was absolutely thrilled to hear there was a new, modern take on the legendary story of the blood-thirsty Romanian count that was supposed to be ‘fun, smart, scary and with just the right whiff of ham’.
I was ready to hit the couch straight away, but my husband had concerns, as he’s not only not good with blood but also not good with horror films – or even thrillers. He was curious – so I wasn’t allowed to watch it on my own – but afraid it would be too scary for him.
The other day, I finally convinced him to give it a try, and so, with much built-up anticipation, we watched the first (feature-film-length) episode of the miniseries.
At first I thought, ‘Oh, his name is “Jonathan Harker” – so this must be based on Bram Stoker’s book’. I was hooked because Stoker’s gothic masterpiece is one of my favourite reads of all times! It is an epic combination of ingenious writing and gripping storytelling, a glorious celebration of the English language and daunting exploration of the darkest pits of our souls.
But then, watching further – what can I tell you? I was just as quickly unhooked again because this film was an absolute stinker. Honestly – it did not get a rise out of any of us. We sat there watching it in utter silence waiting for the twist, perhaps some kind of irony or wit or even just decent dialogues.
What we got instead was a flaccid, half-arsed attempt at Bram Stoker’s story with an utter lack of both suspense and atmosphere sprinkled with a ridiculously dead-pan use of cheap splatter-film effects, the whole thing being performed by unconvinced, and ergo unconvincing, actors.
The thing with reviews – including this one – is, though, they’re quite subjective. So in order to decide whether you should heed my advice of not watching Dracula, see if you agree with any of these three statements of mine:
- Emma Stone, rather than Olivia Colman, deserved the Oscar for Best Actress for The Favourite.
- Breaking Bad is the best TV series of all times (minus series 3, or at least Fly).
- The best horror film ever made (and better than the book it is based on) is Hitchcock’s Psycho (although it is despicable how Hitchcock as a person behaved), while its 1998 remake is one of the worst ones.
If you agree, don’t watch the Dracula series but instead Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which is in my view right there in second rank of the best horror films ever made. It is sensual and powerful and sexy and very dark. From the very outset, it envelops you in a velvety gloom of anticipation and horrific delight. There is tension and wit and irony, and the acting is superb. (Okay, I might be biased because I’ve loved Gary Oldman in almost anything he’s played since I first saw him in Léon.)
Well, it would be boring if we all agreed all the time, but there is one thing I do agree on with Lucy Mangan: she is spot on about the Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special!
The Pommes Buddha says: They don’t make ‘em as they used to.
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