I can’t believe Dracula Untold got made. It’s an amazing jumble of nonsensical film parts that I can only believe the pitch meeting between screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless and the development executive at Universal went something like this:
Matt: So, we want to make a Dracula movie that tells the origin story of the most famous vampire in the world.
Executive: Great! Universal has a rich history of making horror movies with iconic characters like this. We’d love to get in the business of making a good horror movie to rescue vampires from being such a punch line in chick lit.
Burk: Oh, no, this isn’t a horror movie. It’s going to be more like the 300 movies. It’ll be a dark atmosphere-y old war movie like that.
Executive: That sounds good too. A brave town hunkering down as they have to defend themselves from the unspeakable horror of the first ever vampire. I still like it a lot.
Matt: Dracula is going to be the good guy in this movie. He’s going to fight the army of the Ottoman Empire.
Executive: Ok, I guess anti-heroes have always done good business and having him fight against a giant army might be interesting. We’ve seen vampires overwhelm individuals but an army of thousands of people might pose an interesting challenge.
Burk: He’s going to kill thousands of people effortlessly in seconds, there won’t be a moment in the film where you believe that anyone is a legitimate challenge to Dracula’s power.
Executive: Well…that’s an interesting way to handle conflict. I think I can still greenlight this movie, if we drop it in October no one will notice it isn’t a scary movie until we already have a lot of their money. Can you at least make a bunch of scenes that feel like they come straight out of Game of Thrones?
Matt: Absolutely, we even already have Charles “Tywin Lannister” Dance himself already attached.
Executive: Great! Is $70 million enough to get this movie in to theaters?
Suffice to say this didn’t produce a great movie. All origin movies have to deal with a certain feeling of inevitability but the good ones manage to do things that shine a new light on the stores we’ve heard a million times. Dracula Untold decides to tell us the parts of the story no one ever cared enough about to ask. I’m not in to Dracula movies to see Dracula care about his family or struggle with the burden of ruling Transylvania. I want to see vampire stuff, victims being stalked and seduced and the like. Dracula Untold gives that to me in the last three minutes of the movie. It’s like making a Superman movie where he doesn’t save Lois Lane until the end credits are rolling. There are a lot of movies this could have been and some of them might have even been satisfying but this was a terrible vampire movie and I would call it a disgrace to the name Dracula but I’ve seen Dracula 2000.