The vampire film genre has always created huge interest within cinema, especially the story of Dracula. I myself have always been a huge fan of vampire sub genre of horror. Ever since watching the classic Nosferatu at quite a young age I was undeniably intrigued by this genre. In recent years we have seen a shift in point of view when it comes to the portrayal of vampires. Films and TV programmes such as the Twilight Saga, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries have romanticised the idea of the Vampire’s portraying them in manner that is far away from the image of monstrous fear in which it all began. So it was about time that things were taken back to the beginning, focusing on the tale of Dracula. This is exactly what director Gary Shore has done in Dracula Untold his reboot of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which takes us back to the 15th century.
Dracula Untold follows the story of Prince Vlad (Luke Evans), who as a young boy was brought up and trained by Turkish Overlords to become a fearless warrior, known to many as Vlad the Impaler. Years on and a far cry from all the bloodshed of his youth, now a grown man Prince Vlad now stands as the peaceful ruler over Transylvania with his gorgeous wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and son Ingeras (Art Parkinson) by his side. However things soon take a violent change as Vlad’s old acquaintance in battle Sultan Mehmed (Dominic Cooper) arrives in Transylvania demanding a sacrifice of 1000 boys, including Ingeras, to make up his army. Vlad becomes desperate as he struggles to devise a strategy to keep his people protected which leads to his drastic visit to the mythical dark creature of tooth mountain. Here Vlad strikes a dangerous deal with this horrific monster to obtain great strength and power. This of course comes with a price, leading to a deadly fate for his kingdom and unavoidable transformation into Dracula ensues.
Dracula Untold is overall very different, as unlike many vampire films of recent years it actually focuses on the genesis of the iconic Dracula, shining a light on the prince of darkness and giving an insight on how he came to be. Interestingly the film is not your usual horror movie as Vlad’s portrayal has the audience sympathising with his plight. Vlad is represented as an anti hero making morally controversial decisions for the seemingly good of his people. There is a large focus on his relationships with his family and ties to his people which actually transforms this film into more of a drama than a horror.
One thing that also becomes very apparent about this film is that there is a much larger focus on the themes of war rather than anything else. The dark build up to the powerful battle scenes is reminiscent of that to be seen in an episode of Game Of Thrones. Gary Shore’s distinctive visual style is showcased perfectly in these scenes with long panoramic shots that gradually pan over the gorgeous landscapes chosen for location. However unlike Game Of Thrones this film is held back a little by its PG 13 rating certificate and so all the battles are portrayed as bloodless. It is this considerable lack of gore that is one of the films down falls as these scenes feel slightly unrealistic, lacking the brutal intensity in which they deserve.
The film creates anticipation even as it ends, with a very ‘to be continued’ feel to it as we see Vlad in present day times drawn to a woman who looks very similar to Mirena. It is this possibility of what may come next that added to the brilliant appeal of this film and has subsequently created a lot of speculation around Universals intentions for perhaps the next chapter.
So if you are a vampire fan like me but also fancy something that has an emotive drama feel to it then this is the film for you. Why not purchase Dracula Untold and begin Universal’s interesting journey as Dracula.
Dracula Untold is now available to purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray via Universal Pictures.
Blu-ray Bonus Features:
– The Land Of Dracula
– Alternate Opening
– Alternate Opening With Commentary by Director Gary Shore and Production Designer Francois Audouy
– Deleted Scenes
– Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director Gary Shore and Production Designer Francois Audouy
– Feature Commentary with Director Gary Shore and Production Designer Francois Audouy
– A Day In The Life: Luke Evans
– Dracula Retold
– Slaying 1000
– Luke Evans: Creating A Legend