The latest film to be flogged under the "Wes Craven Presents..." banner offers further evidence that the words "quality" and "control" have long deserted the horror master's vocabulary. But what was Craven expecting when he gave his approval to a film penned by the screenwriter of Highlander Endgame and helmed by a man whose only other directing credit is Prophecy III: The Ascent?
This feeble attempt to haul Count Vlad into the new millennium is a humdrum effort by all involved. In the age of Buffy, giving Bram Stoker's immortal blood-sucker a youthful makeover should at least start with a worthwhile script and decent characters. But although all the stock vampire trademarks are here - blood, garlic, decapitations, stakes through hearts - what's missing is wit, storytelling panache and real scares.
The early passages are best, with director Patrick Lussier managing to whip up a few chills and thrills as Solina (Jennifer Esposito) and her gang of morons jet over the Atlantic with the pilfered coffin. There are even some new twists to the legend - including one about Drac's origins. But Dracula 2001 buckles under the strain of a clunky script, unremarkable effects and make-up, and charisma-bypass performances from the central pairing of Justine Waddell and Jonny Lee Miller. When Dracula's bloodthirsty brides (including Star Trek Voyager pouter Jeri Ryan) are the best thing in the movie, you know something is very, very wrong.
And as for the old jugular-sucker himself (Brit actor Gerard Butler)? Well, with his permed, oil-slick hair and leather ensembles, he's about as sexy as an over-the-hill '80s rock star (not good when Dracula's meant to make women swoon with his magnetism) and less terrifying than Keith Richards. And that's the stake through the heart of this bloodsucking bore.
By the time Lussier tries to pretend he's not making a brainless horror flick by shoehorning in some heavy-handed religious motifs, a sluggish pall has settled over proceedings, and you'll probably be sitting there wondering whether you still have time to get a takeaway.
Suckers for generic teen horror flicks - - and their staples of dodgy acting, gaping plot holes and heaving bosoms - - might find something tempting about Dracula 2001. But for everyone else, this is a dull, plodding update of the Bram Stoker classic.
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