Director: Bill Eagles
Writer: Stewart Harcourt
Starring: David Suchet, Marc Warren and Dan Stevens
This film begins with an old man preparing to go to sleep; he is played by David Suchet. We see from a tag that he is Abraham Van Helsing. We get images of a monster of some sort. He goes to sleep, but then screams when he is attacked.
We then shift to England in 1899. We have a man played by Dan Stevens who is going on a walk with Sophia Myles. It is a kind of awkward, but she agrees to marry him.
From here it goes to Stevens’ father’s estate. The man is dying of something and he is given an injection. Back in London, Stevens visits his friend, played by Tom Burke. We learn that Burke also loved Myles, but he is upset that she has chosen Stevens. Stevens tells Burke that he has to go see his father. We learn he hasn’t done this in some time.
Upon arriving, we learn that his father has died. Stevens also learn that his father died of syphilis and that Stevens has it too.
There is another couple who are engaged as well. The woman is best friends with Myles, she is played by Stephanie Leonidas, and her fiancé is played by Rafe Spall. We learn that Spall has just recently gained his solicitor’s license. Stevens seems interested in this.
We then learn that Stevens is doing whatever he can to marry Myles and is trying to find a way to cure his syphilis. There was no cure for it during the time period of film. He has joined a secret society that is run by Donald Sumpter, who states that his master can help to cure him.
Spall learns from his boss that he has first client. He must travel to Transylvania to meet with Count Dracula. He travels there and meets with the count, played by Marc Warren. Spall is kept much longer than he is expected. He eventually learns the truth about Warren, who at first is an old man, but he drains Spall of his blood.
Myles and Stevens get married. She really wants to become physical with him, but still with syphilis, which he has not told her he has, he has to avoid her advances. This upsets her more and more. Leonidas is also bothered with missing Spall.
Sumpter informs Stevens that Warren is on his way, so Stevens has his wife go up to Whitby. Stevens believes he will meet Warren in London. That doesn’t work out though. A storm hits and the ship follows it up to Whitby. When the ship crashes on the beach, the following day Leonidas believes that she sees Spall, but it turns out to be Warren, who looks much younger now. Both Myles and Leonidas are interested in him.
Warren is invited to dinner, which angers Stevens. He thinks that Warren is a normal man, but soon learns that he is not. Warren refuses to save Stevens, despite everything he has done for him to get to England. Warren actually drains Myles of her blood while she is right in bed next to him.
Myles death pushes Stevens to depression and Leonidas is also feeling similar to him over Spall not returning. Burke is called in to try to save Myles, but he fails. He has seen Stevens with Sumpter and knows there is something up. He tries to ask Leonidas, but she refuses to tell him anything.
As Burke digs deeper, he finds Sumpter and another member of this society. While searching the basement, he finds that Suchet has been locked down there. He is freed and he informs Burke that Warren really is a vampire.
Will Burke be able to convince Leonidas of the truth? Can he get Stevens to help him to save Myles and kill Warren? Will Leonidas become Warren’s next prey? Can Warren even be stopped?
I do have to say that this film does some good things. I really like the different twist on why Dracula comes to London. I like that there is a secret society that knows of him, worships him and want to serve him. Makes it an interesting idea of why he is there. I also like that they used a different angle where a man with wealth actually is helping the society for selfish reasons, but they are using him too. I also like that they used the main story of Dracula, but had subtle differences. There are a lot of Dracula films that do the same thing, so something different is nice. I also thought the issue of hidden desires of woman was an interesting take and how Dracula plays on it. Again, something different that added an extra element.
Part of my biggest issue with this version might be that was made for PBS. I think they might have watered it down just a little. I think some of the acting, while being classically trained or at least felt that way, which makes it come off as a little bland. It actually does feel more like a stage play that is filmed, even though it is a movie. I have seen Myles in other things in which she shows more emotions. I think really the only time I believed her was during the talk about sex with Leonidas. I also felt that Warren was creepy, but did not command the screen like Dracula needs to, which hurt this film for me.
I would say that there are much better versions of Dracula out there to view. This one is not bad by any stretch, but it is in the middle of the pack. This one does do some different things with the story, which I liked. I did have some problems with some of the acting and there really isn’t anything scary. If this version sounds good, give it a viewing. If it doesn’t, I would avoid this one and pick up one of the other renditions of this tale that are out there.
My Rating: 5 out of 10