Writers: Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat
Release: January 2020
Airing: BBC 1 and Netflix
Dracula, Dracula, Dracula.
It is not a surprise to anyone that when the BBC announced it would be making a new show based on Dracula with some more.. mature and bloody themes I was stoked. HOWEVER, my excitement was certainly quelled when the creators, Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat were announced.
Now, this is an entirely personal preference, but I do not enjoy the way they write certain character types or the direction that they take some of their stories in. Unfortunately, Dracula was no different. If you disagree with me and thought it was wonderful, that is AMAZING and I am absolutely thrilled for you. I am not here to bash, just to objectively put down some of my thoughts.
First off visuals
Okay, so some solid positives. Visually it was great for a BBC show. The CGI of the boat from above in episode 2 was dreadful, however, aside from that. I got some intense Hammer Horror vibes especially in episode 1. When they are creeping around the castle, the labyrinth of rooms, the skittering and the unsettling atmosphere really work. They had created a genuinely sinister atmosphere, coupled with the mind tricks between Dracula and Johnathon Harker, episode 1 really had some fear factor.
The whole castle’s vibe just worked, really nice and gothic with some strong German Expressionism influences in the corners and corridors. Also, can we all agree that we need to bring some more heavy drapery into modern decor?
Cinematically, Dracula was testing out some new things, especially for a show on the BBC, the reveal in episode 2 of room 9 was absolutely fantastic and really took me back to films like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. However, slow-motion blood? Once was enough, we don’t need slow drippy drops every time. It just dragged me straight out of any immersion I might have managed to find my self in.
Okay so, first off. Dracula has been around for 500 years so of course, he likes it both ways! He’s the epitome of getting elbow-deep in hedonism, he is “sin”! So chill if he wants to have Johnathon for his bride then let’s do that!
I was conflicted at first with the representation of Dracula, I have never found the perfect representation that works for me. However, I like Claes Bang for Dracula physically. He is a handsome Dracula, has a regal, nobleman presence that just works for the character. I even enjoyed his slightly over the top hammed up Dracula voice. HOWEVER, as with everything in this article. I did not like how he was written, some aspects of his personality were entertaining but too much was reminiscent of Andrew Scott’s Moriarty.
That being said, more naked, bloody knife licking would be fine.. you know, for science…
Moving swiftly on…
I would have happily watched the full show as a game of cat and mouse between Nun-Helsing and Dracula. Her bold, bolshy, take no shit attitude was absolutely wonderful. She is an educated woman who is not afraid to call Dracula on his shit and face him, literally nose to nose.
I’d love to see her, as some kind of immortal, following Drac across the world and time, just fang jamming him at every turn. The chess match in episode 2 was so engaging, a cat and mouse game of wits is always 100% my jam. We’re so drawn into the game on the table and the game unfolding around us. But, that doesn’t even last the full episode.
The tonal shift from 2 to 3 is so swift and gut-punching I got whiplash. After watching all this set up and this “modern twist” I just found myself longing for the mental games, the horror and the drama of the first episode. Not this Hollyoaks, teenage drama.
Respect the source
There is a time and place for adaptations that change a few elements to bring them up to a modern-day setting. Nevertheless, there needs to be some respect. The removal of key lore just to shoehorn, what was a rushed and convoluted end scene does not work for me. Episode 3 lost its footing, gone was the dark sense of humour that was SO prevalent in ep 1. It was just depressing with a pseudo-Shakespearean ending that feels as though it should be hugely significant and meaningful. Though in fact, it felt rushed and a bit hamfisted.
I have great respect for what the creators have put together, but for me, it was all bark, no bite.
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