Your weekly streaming pick has arrived! Dracula is a Netflix/BBC production. The mini-series is done in a similar fashion to the excellent BBC Sherlock series. The season is only three episodes but each one feels like a feature. The quality and take on the subject matter is incredible and shows that these classic monsters can still work.
The series starts in 1897 Transylvania, where else? At this point the infamous Count Dracula is four hundred years old. He is not yet so famous. The vampire lore is something that people have heard of but, like our world, don’t take too seriously. That is, until they come face to face with the ever charming Count Dracula (Claes Bang).
The series starts off exactly as you may expect. Large manors, puns on blood, a charming absurdly rich count with the name that tells the audience everything that the other characters would love to know. Where the show stands out is in it’s quality.
The sets, production, and writing are top notch. Everything feels on. Everything fits together and everything just… works. It’s actually hard to describe without having seems showing to try and tie up. As much as the atmosphere, language, and setting all feel completely authentic they pale in comparison to the performance of the leading man.
Claes Bang is a Danish actor who may not be well known to American audiences. His acting resume is extensive. All you really need is him as Dracula. He takes a character that has been done so many times. The genre and lore has been beaten into the ground in every way possible. He takes these tired things and breaths new life into them by being an absolutely charming monster. His performance is so magnetic I’d suggest watching just the first episode for the acting alone.
Dracula is currently streaming on Netflix
Dracula gets to go head to head with a Van Helsing. For those not up on your vampire lore, Van Helsing is classically the one who hunts vampires and other monsters. In this version Van Helsing is a woman. Dolly Wells plays a couple variations on the character. She is exquisite in the first episode. The back and forth between Wells and Bang is a sub show all it’s own.
This show is really something to be enjoyed. By the third episode it takes an insane turn that I wasn’t exactly on board with at first. The show built up enough good will in the first two to keep me going. The third has it’s charms but it feels so detached from the other episodes it’s strange the show runners didn’t at least run the season out before making the radical switch. Time will tell if this decision was ultimately for the best of the series as we have to wait for the next season.
I have to admit, I had no interest in this show when it first hit Netflix. Another vampire story? Another iteration of Dracula… pass. Then I saw that the greatest novelist of all time was praising the show and it’s buckets of blood. I showed up on his recommendation and loved the quality and the acting. He also wasn’t kidding about the buckets of blood. It makes since since Dracula not only feeds on blood but that blood is a carrier for so many things in the context of the show both literally and figuratively.
Give Dracula a shot. Even if you’re suffering vampire fatigue. It’s a great return to form for the classic monster and the acting alone is worth it. Even if you just do the first episode each one plays out like a 90 minute movie.