“Dracula Untold” leaves viewers thirsty for more

Nathan Fisher

Illustration by Cooper-Ellis
Illustration by Cooper-Ellis

After HBO’s hit show “True Blood” ended a few weeks ago, I have been suffering from withdrawal in the bloodsucker department. “Twilight” never satisfied my appetite and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” sucked (in the wrong way). I hoped the recent release of “Dracula Untold” would fill the vampire void, but unfortunately I left the theater still unsatisfied and thirsting for more. OK, OK, enough of the bad vampire puns …

“Dracula Untold” opens with Prince Vlad (Luke Evans) living happily with his loving family, ruling the peaceful and tranquil Transylvania. Prince Vlad’s perfect life falls apart when the powerful Turkish army crashes Transylvania’s 10-year celebration of peace and demands that Transylvania give 1,000 boys to fight for the Turks or suffer the consequences.

Coincidentally, Prince Vlad just so happens to have been enslaved by the Turks as a boy soldier and was beaten until he became the fighting machine known throughout the world as Vlad the Impaler. Well, Vlad does not stand by and let his son (Art Parkinson) and the other 999 boys suffer as he did. More easily said than done; even Vlad the Impaler is not strong enough to take on the Turkish army. So what does he do? Ah, of course! He seeks out guidance from a vampire living high in the mountains.

Vlad explains to the nefarious vampire (Charles Dance) that he needs help in defeating the evil Turks. The vampire offers to give him superpowers, but in return Vlad must agree to drink the vampire’s blood –– an off-putting task with consequences. Vlad will have an unquenchable thirst for human blood, but if he can keep himself from drinking human blood for three days, he will revert back to normal. Vlad foolishly agrees and downs a skull-full of vampire blood and turns into … COUNT DRACULA (maniacal laugh: “Muhahahaha!”).

What follows is Vlad’s acquisition of a whirlwind of magical powers: He controls bats, turns into a swirling horde of bats, has super strength, grows ‘sexy’ pointy teeth and thermal vision. Vlad struggles to keep himself from drinking human blood because everyone, even his wife (Sarah Gadon), look delicious.

The combination of Dracula’s cool new superpowers, his animalistic thirst and his aristocratic bloodline gave this film great potential. Unfortunately, the CGI effects were at times abysmal, and the movie took itself too seriously. The problem really seemed to be the disconnect between maintaining a PG-13 rating and a storyline filled with evil, blood and violence.

I mean come on, Count Dracula/Prince Vlad/Vlad the Impaler single-handedly kills hundreds of thousands of people, and no blood?! But hey, congrats on receiving that deceptive PG-13 rating.

All of the movie’s faults left me completely unfulfilled at the end of “Dracula Untold.” What’s more, the movie ends on a cliffhanger with someone ominously saying, “Let the games begin,” which is a sure hint that many sequels and monster spin-offs lie on the road ahead. The unsatisfying ending, coupled with the production and plot foibles, meant this movie neither beat out other sub-par vampire movies nor quenched my thirst for horror this Halloween season

So unless you really want to get hooked on watching a desperate aristocrat try to protect his family by doing unspeakable acts and killing hundreds of thousands of people, you might as well put a stake in it and pass on “Dracula Untold.”