Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dracula 2000

directed by Patrick Lussier
starring Christopher Plummer and Gerard Butler
Dimension Films, December 22, 2000, 99 minutes
Rated R

A group of thieves break into a chamber expecting to find paintings, but instead release the Count himself, who travels to New Orleans to find his nemesis’ daughter, Mary Van Helsing.

Ive been sick lately, and as the kids were downstairs playing with the neighbor kids and my wife and the baby were taking a nap, I was languishing on the couch scanning through Netflix trying to decide what to watch. This film was in our InstaQueue and since I had 90 minutes to kill, I decided What the hell and clicked on play.

Let me just say, that even though I was sick and my face felt like it was going to explode at any minute, these are 99 minutes that I want back. Sinus pressure and all. I dont know whos idea this film was, and who held a gun to Wes Cravens head to get him to sign on as producer (though I have to say that I have been increasingly disappointed with Mr. Cravens entries into the horror genre in the last twenty years or so (wow, that makes me feel so old to put it that way) and perhaps there is a future blog post in that somewhere...) but this is, perhaps, one of the worst entries into the family of Dracula films that has been perpetrated on the film going public, and that includes Billy the Kid vs. Dracula.

Anyway, the script is horribly stilted, though I do give them credit for having assistant Simon Sheppard (Jonny Lee Miller) beheading a vampiric Omar Epps and declaring NEVER ... ever FUCK with an antiques dealer! Thats just good writing. Though, it is followed up with such dreck as Dracula (Butler) declaring I never drink ... coffee (ugh!) and Were all so much more complicated than our names. (blerk!). Plus, the plot was so ridiculous:

Matthew Van Helsing (Plummer) is the grandson to the real life Abraham Van Helsing who inspired the character from Stoker's novel, and Matthew is an antiques dealer in London who has a taste for the esoteric. One of his first purchases that we see in the movie is a medieval crossbow that shoots silver bolts. Matts secretary Solina (Jennifer Esposito) is soon revealed to be the inside man in a heist of Matt's high security vault that surely hides something valuable. After a number of deaths of the heist crew (headed by Marcus (Epps)) they flee with the only object in the vault: a silver coffin, reasoning that it must be filled with something extraordinarily valuable.

It's soon revealed to be Draculas coffin (shocker!) and the undead Count is imprisoned therein and the unwitting crooks let him loose, causing their plane to crash in the swamps outside of New Orleans (yawn) ... just how many vampire films have to be set in New Orleans before they leave that poor city alone? Leave it to Louis and Lestat and every other vampire find somewhere else to live, please? Chaos ensues ... Dracula hunts, turns sexy women (Esposito, Jeri Ryan and Colleen Fitzpatrick) into his Vampire brides and eventually confronts Matthew Van Helsing who, it turns out is actually Abraham in a weird plot twist that seems quite improbable when you stop and look at it for too long.

From there, the film takes a weird, hanging left turn into the kooky as the true twist of the film is revealedDracula's real identity. I wont spoil it for you if you havent seen it, but while I will give the filmmakers credit for having the balls to completely retcon the Dracula mythos, in the end, it is very unsatisfying.

Add to all of this the fact that Butler struts through the film like a rock video reject with his black leather, wind-blown locks and pale skin and his lines are garbled due to his elongated fangs and Scottish brogue. Plummer chews the scenery as Van Helsing and really it is only Miller who is able to bring anything resembling dignity to his role.

All around, this film is a real mess that is muddled by the addition of a soundtrack that probably made more money than the film did. It is an emo/rock mishmash that is played too loud and too often, usually overshadowing the action of the film. The film actually gave me a headache.

Overall, a very poor entry into the Dracula canon, and a film that underuses its actors, misuses its location and source material and absolutely wastes 90 minutes of your time. Its not even really bloody enough to be a good vampire film in that respect. The grossest scene is Nightshades (Danny Masterson) encounter with a leech that actually made me cringe. I cant imagine paying for this film in the theater, let alone having used up valuable time and resources in my Netflix queue for this film. Let my experience serve as a warning: skip Dracula 2000 and spend your time with a better vampire film ... and really any vampire film would be better than this one.



Official Trailer

Dracula 2000 at IMDb