Dracula: The Dark Prince, 2013.
Directed by Pearry Reginald Teo.
Starring Luke Roberts, Jon Voight, Kelly Wenham, Ben Robson, Holly Earl and Stephen Hogan.
In his quest to find the only weapon powerful enough to destroy him, Dracula (Roberts) falls in love with Alina (Kelly Wenham), a woman who bears a striking resemblance to his long-deceased bride. He then has her kidnapped and taken to his home where he plans on seducing her, but with the legendary vampire hunter Van Helsing (Voight) in hot pursuit, he’ll have to act fast to win her over…
If you’ve ever felt that there weren’t quite enough cinematic offerings about Dracula, then you might be pleased to know the just for good measure we have another adaptation coming straight to Netflix. Hollywood hasn’t been blessed with originality for years, and in recent times the amount of sequels, remakes, re-imaginings, or rip offs has become almost epidemic. As such this low budget fantasy adventure opts for one of cinemas most overused antagonists, Dracula.
In this tale Dracula was once a warrior prince fighting for his country. Having turned to the dark side, the people he fought for, rebelled against him, killing his beloved bride. He became immortal, spending his time longing for his lost love and searching for the light-bringer, a weapon that can help him defy God and eradicate death. There’s an attempt here to paint Dracula as a more sympathetic character than his standard Christopher Lee-esque depictions. It doesn’t work unfortunately, largely because of poor characterisation, flat acting and an overriding feeling that this cheap film looks like a bad episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, without the charm, or the Lucy Lawless (Mmmm Lucy Lawless).
Now there’s something very embarrassing about this film. It’s incredibly low rent and doesn’t do nearly enough to make this an interesting telling of the legend. What it does have though, somewhat inexplicably, is Jon Voight appearing as Van Helsing. Voight is hardly tearing up the big screen these days of course, but his appearance here is slightly cringe-worthy. His performance is terrible and he’s clearly here for a quick paycheck. It almost feels at times in this like he’s just some jobbing actor from England who’s appeared in a few episodes of The Bill, who’s been given a plum role and happens to look a little like Jon Voight. If you ever watch a really cheap film that’s been shot for peanuts in Eastern Europe and you see a guy who looks like Jon Voight. Look again, because it may well be Jon Voight.
Aside from Voight half assedly hamming things up, the rest of the cast are distinctly average. Luke Roberts is a bland Dracula who smoulders and pouts a lot but not much else. This is a role that has been filled by many great actors over the years. To join that pantheon you’ve got to do something memorable and really knock it out of the park. Roberts doesn’t come close. The remainder do little of note besides giving lots of wistful looks, something that seems to be becoming ever more fashionable in cinema since the Twilight films.
With lacklustre direction, cheap sets, poor CGI and ropey fight choreography, there’s little visual stimulus to make up for the mediocre cast. The highlight of the film is the part animated prologue which is actually reasonably well done. Overall this is not a film that will compare favourably to the Dracula canon. It’s hardly the worst, although there have been some so bad they become comically good. Dracula-philes may get a kick out of this, though I doubt it. For everyone else it’s not really worth your time.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★