'Dracula' Review: The boldest portrayal of Dracula in a long time

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, the makers of Sherlock and Doctor Who, are notorious for their bold approach to classic works, often showing utter disregard to time and space. But even their staunchest critics would agree that Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat are probably the best people to give a modern touch to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Their knack for the morbid and the bizarre was best demonstrated in Sherlock’s 2016 special episode titled The Abominable Bride. Having seen that episode, I personally was convinced that Gatiss and Moffat can handle the gory aspects of Dracula really well. And so it’s no surprise at all that their rendition of Dracula is also the bloodiest ever and the same is confirmed by Stephen King’s recent tweet which read: “The BBC incarnation of DRACULA (Netflix) is smart, involving, and bloody terrific. Which is to say it’s terrific and VERY bloody.”

Now, the generation that has grown up watching the The Twilight films may find it a little difficult to accept the world of Count Dracula. For, Stoker’s ghastly vision of the vampires is far removed from the romantic notions of Stephenie Meyer. When a vampire like Dracula feeds on a human being there is nothing romantic about it. During a recent interview when the show’s co-creator Steven Moffat was asked to comment on the sexuality of their Dracula, he categorically stated that it would be incorrect to describe him as bisexual. “He’s bi-homicidal, it’s not the same thing. He’s killing them, not dating them,” he explained.
The character of Dracula in the series is delectably played by little known Danish actor named Claes Bang. What makes Bang’s portrayal of Dracula alluring is how he brings to the character a sense of mystery and charm and in equal parts. While explaining his charming of portrayal of the Bond villain Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, the legendary Christopher Lee famously said, “I played him like the dark side of Bond.” Bang’s portrayal of Dracula too can be described in the same way. Coincidentally, Dracula was also one of Lee’s most famous characters along with Scaramanga and Saruman.
The series by Gatiss and Moffat is easily the boldest experiment in horror in the 21st century so far. Dracula’s story has been done to death and so it’s no mean feat to make it look so refreshing again. What really makes it exciting to watch is the great level of unpredictability that they bring to the story. Some parts of the series are so loyal to the book that one begins to forget that this is an entirely new rendition of the classic tale. Then some parts are so imaginatively added to the story that one really feels a little outraged by the makers’ creative liberties. So, yes, it does get a little insane at times but one can’t help but admire the boldness of the makers to create something so revoltingly fascinating. When Count Dracula announces “Blood is lives” as opposed to the usual “The blood is life” one really wonders where one is headed. But when one finally begins to appreciate how Bang’s Dracula inherits the memories and even qualities of those he has feasted upon it all begins to make sense. Here is a series that needs to be watched but it’s certainly not meant for the faint-hearted.
Rating: 9/10
A version of this review was first published in The Sunday Guardian
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