The Soul-Sucking Netflix Series That Is “Dracula”
While there is not much to say regarding the upsides to this mini TV series released by Netflix in 2020, there is one positive, the unpredictability of the show itself and the plot direction. However, other than that, it is sad to say that the show Dracula started off extremely strong, with a suspenseful and dangerous start, and then dipped so far down from redemption… which the last episode attempted at, but failed.
The TV series, Dracula, originally released in the UK and later released on Netflix, was a limited series remix of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula set over three episodes. The show begins extremely similar to the book itself, with Jonathan Harker traveling to Transylvania to help Count Dracula sell his estate and move to England. Unfortunately for Jonathan Harker, he soon discovers the monstrosities and sins lying beneath the shadows of Count Dracula’s castle. During the premiere, the audience is flooded with terrifying scenes and images of Jonathan, after his escape from the Count’s castle and his recollection of the horrifying events that took place during his stay there. Although it starts off with the same traditional feeling that readers are given by the novel, the series is soon realized to be its own creation, with the unique relationship between Dracula and Jonathan, and the inclusion of vital characters from the novel such as Mina or Lucy… but then not doing anything with them and seemingly only including them for the fans.
However, despite this, the premiere episode of Dracula gives the audience a beautifully mixed range of humor, horror, and sexuality, with none overpowering the other. The viewers are able to experience Jonathan’s pain through his physical appearance, looking pale grey and his nails rotting off his fingers. Unlike the presentation of the charming, daring Jonathan from the novel, the series paints Jonathan as a tortured victim of Count Dracula. It is reasonable to assume that if the Dracula series had continued these tones of horror and humor throughout the remaining episodes, it may have been extremely compelling and suspenseful.
However, themes and tones start to slip up in the second episode of Dracula, which takes place on the boat, The Demeter. Not terrible, but a definite shift from the first episode, the Demeter episode is more of a murder mystery. It feels more similar to the famous Agatha Christie writings than a horror about a soul-sucking vampire. Much less horror and more humor, Dracula begins to act as a charming, yet secretive detective, much like to Sherlock Holmes, which is understandable considering the director of this series also helped to create the Sherlock series. Sadly for horror fans, the second episode falls short being less gruesome and less violent and more comical and light-hearted. While the second episode does throw Dracula folklore at the audience that the novel only lightly touches on, the entire episode takes place on a boat that is not mentioned in detail in the novel itself. The second episode ends with yet another showdown between Van Helsing and Dracula, where he sinks to the bottom of the ocean while on his journey to England.
The final episode of the limited series, Dracula, is easily the worst of all three of them. Taking place in the present, the finale seems half written and as if the directors and filmmakers were tired of the original story. At this point maybe they wanted this to be something completely different from Dracula. There are hardly any action or horror aspects in this final episode, which mainly focuses on Dracula’s adaptation to modern life. Classic characters from the novel such as Lucy Westerna and Jack Seward finally show up in the series as young adults in the 21st century, making them seem very one dimensional and shallow. The romantic tragedy vibes that the last episode gives off will definitely steer away any remaining horror fans waiting for a good fright. Fortunately for the series, each episode can be seen as its own story and not required to watch all together.
The performance by the actors in the series definitely outshone the script in several parts of the show, including many times when Agatha Van Helsing, played by Dolly Wells, was on screen battling Dracula, played by Claes Bang. Bang’s performances throughout the series gave Dracula a terrifying yet seductive quality important for setting the show apart from the famous lore surrounding Count Dracula. However, even the performances of the actors could not save the dying quality of the final episode.
Despite the horror aspects given to the audience in the first episode through the energies of Count Dracula’s castle… the rotting fingernails, the devilish baby turned undead by Count Dracula, accompanied by the chilling sounds within the castle… the series as a whole is not worthy of the horror title and is more of a drama more than anything else.
Take a peek at the “Dracula” (2020) trailer…