Dracula goes commercial: Identity revealed

Category: Dracula 2000 Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: December 26, 2000 | Publication: The Ottawa Citizen | Author: Mark Lepage
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Dracula 2000 **

Starring: Gerard Butler, Christopher Plummer

Directed by: Patrick Lussier

Rating: AA (horror, not recommended for children)

Playing at: Orleans, Cinema 9, SouthKeys, Coliseum, SilverCity, StarCite, AMC Kanata

"Hey man, what's with all the voodoo?" A man might well ask that question, especially one who finds himself in a vault with a metal coffin in the latest remake of the Dracula story in -- what, six hours? The viewer might end up asking it himself.

Dracula 2000 carries Wes Craven's name and therefore his rep as the "modern Master of Horror" or "the Horrormeister" or whatever other dreadful appellation the blurbmeisters are currently using. However, Craven did not direct this; he left apprentice Patrick Lussier to hold the bag. Dracula 2000 promises, as its significant new wrinkle, to reveal the secret identity of the legendary villain; surely they mean the secret identity they've invented for him. And they have; and it's significant, all right.

However, it cannot be revealed here. Instead, there are more than enough ancient vampire wrinkles to dwell on. Dracula arrived in 2000 with his cliches intact. The film zooms from an antique dealership in London to bawdy New Orleans, or some set designer's impression of this latter. Playing the antique dealer and, in fact, the antique, is Christopher Plummer, who will live up to that surname with many overripe pronouncements as Van Helsing.

The professor has a secret in his vault: a silver coffin he has been guarding for ages. Some very persistent and stupid thieves in expensive long coats discover it, steal it, load it onto a plane, and offer us all 2,000 guesses as to its contents. It's Drac (Gerard Butler), looking very '80s pop star, and looking for a woman in New Orleans with a secret she herself does not comprehend.

Stupidity of young people: check. The Lussier and the Craven team lean heavily on the (yes) smoke and mirrors, along with other apparently necessary horror devices. People will do a lot of not noticing things, which is handy when film-makers want to suggest even a vampire can lose himself in the stoned multitudes and Marilyn Manson-wannabes at Mardi Gras, or that a supernatural being can burst into flames above a crowded street without so much as a "Hey, man."

Van Helsing and his assistant, Simon, load up on silver bullets and track down Dracula, where he is pursuing Van Helsing's daughter, Maria, and turning on new disciples.

Nothing says New Orleans like cajun jumbo with a side order of mumbo, and the filmmakers ladle out bowlfuls of supernaturalisms, culminating in an explanation for Dracula's hatred of silver and all things cruciform.

It's an interesting twist, surrounded by plenty of the usual.

Necessarily, there will be gratuitous full-frontal Catholicism, invoked as the eternal movie antidote to the Undead (and because the collars are so stylin'). Graveyards will be mist-shrouded. And what is it about conversion to vampirism that turns women into Chez Paree nymphos? Star Trek: Voyager's Jeri Ryan in particular is singled out for humiliation as a member of Drac's harem.

Mainly, Dracula 2000 is concerned with contact lenses, product placement, and a visual style equal parts MTV and The Matrix. Nosferatu has been around a long time; he really should know better.

Copyright 2000 Southam Inc.