Twenty-first century Dracula is not scary enough

Category: Dracula 2000 Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: January 4, 2001 | Publication: The State Journal-Register(Springfield, IL) | Author: ALISON WALSH, STAFF WRITER
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What does today's audience expect from a horror movie? Someone inevitably will follow a spooky sound into the dark, there will be some number of gory murders, the main bad guy will be really hard to kill and the dialogue will be sprinkled with one-liners.

"Dracula 2000" hits all these marks and then some.

There aren't any truly scary, people-in-the-audience- screaming type moments, but there are some respectably tense when's-it-gonna- jump-out scenes. As far as the average demon movie goes, this one is not half bad.

It would be nice, once in a while, to see a scary movie that's actually scary and has a decent story. "Dracula 2000" spends most of the film in exposition, introducing a whole new twist on the vampire legend in the last 10 minutes. There's no time for any credibility or feasible explanation, so the movie relies on blind acceptance from the audience. Still, there's lots of cool flying around and all of the vampire ladies have pretty, wavy hair extensions.

The movie begins by introducing Matthew Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer), who we are led to believe is the grandson of Abraham Van Helsing, Bram Stoker's vampire hunter in the Dracula novel. A reference is even made to the book, and Van Helsing laughs it off as a silly legend.

The setup is that Van Helsing deals in rare antiques and has built a top-of- the-line security vault to house some secret treasure. A band of thieves breaks into the vault under the direction of Van Helsing's greedy employee Solina (Jennifer Esposito), and I'm sure it's obvious what the secret treasure turns out to be.

"Dracula 2000" does bring the vampire legend into the 21st century with slick production design and special effects. The vampires still can be killed by stake, silver, sunlight or beheading -the standard methods in most vampire lore. Still, it's mainly shiny, flashy silver used in this shiny, flashy movie.

It was a little surprising to see how many up-and-coming young actors took part, some taking very small parts. For example, Danny Masterson of Fox's "That 70's Show" and Shane West of ABC's "Once and Again," who starred in the teen movie "Whatever it Takes," appear briefly.

While Masterson hangs around long enough to be recognizable, West flashes by so quickly, he'd be easy to miss. Following Wes Craven's outrageous success with the "Scream" trilogy, horror films have become a legitimate venue for young actors to become more visible. Only Jamie Lee Curtis ("Halloween") and Johnny Depp ("Nightmare on Elm Street") come to mind as actors who made a horror film and lived to act again.

In a supporting role as a modern day Lucy, Colleen Fitzpatrick (a k a singer Vitamin C) shows up as the best friend and sometime caretaker of Mary (Justine Waddell). Mary is the equivalent of Stoker's Mina, the female whom Dracula is focused on turning into his mate.

Overall, "Dracula 2000" is fun to watch and the special effects add to its other-worldly aspect.

Gerard Butler, who appears as Dracula in his first U.S. film, is dark and handsome, and women throughout the film swoon as he walks by, probably without much need for acting. Dracula has little to say in the film, which makes Butler's piercing eyes all the more necessary.

Until relatively recently, vampires generally were portrayed as horrific creatures of the night. Thanks in part to Ann Rice's novels and the WB network's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," vampires have taken on a number of fairly enviable qualities.

In "Dracula 2000," this trend goes one step further to make being a vampire look like quite the thing to be. They are beautiful, strong, can jump really far and all exclaim upon waking up as vampires that it's the greatest thing they've ever felt.

Except for that part about sucking blood, this movie is practically a promotional piece on why it's great to be a vampire.

Copyright 2001 The State Journal-Register