Directed by Patrick Lussier. Starring Jonny Lee Miller, Justine Waddell, Gerard Butler and Christopher Plummer.
"Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2001" reads the poster, but those expecting the latest outing from the Scream director should check the small print: he's just the Executive Producer, the film itself is directed by Craven protégé Patrick Lussier. However, as the production notes are only too eager to point out, "Craven lent his unique understanding of the psychology of fear to the film". Yeah right.
Modern day London and Van Helsing (Plummer) and his young charge Simon (Miller) have a big problem. Someone has broken into the old man's vault and unwittingly robbed the body of Dracula. It's now en route to New Orleans where a young woman called Mary (Waddell) is troubled by dreams of a tall, dark, handsome stranger who it seems has studied the Lover's Guide videos in some detail. Armed with silver stakes and an endless supply of coincidences, Van Helsing and Simon set off to nail their man.
Attempting to update the Count's story so that it will have added appeal for today's kids in black is all very admirable but someone should have told Lustier, Craven and scriptwriter Joel Soisson that it's only worth updating if you have a story that's better than the original. With its cod spirituality (Dracula's story now dates back to the Crucifixion), rehashed set pieces and dire soundtrack, the only audience 'Dracula 2001' deserves are the undead who wander around video shops at 1am looking for something to put them to sleep. There's enough holes in the plot to drive a 40-foot hearse through and any moments of suspense are brilliantly cancelled out with lines like "What the hell is that?" as someone stares vacantly at Drac's casket.
The relationship between Plummer and Miller was worth developing in more detail but once the duo arrive in New Orleans their minutes together are numbered and the plot moves from standard horror fare to what's best described as 'Transfusion: Impossible'. There's a couple of gadgets, a fight scene which it must have taken a whole evening watching 'The Matrix' to come up with and a beat the clock scenario which has nothing on the drama of the viewer looking at their watch every five minutes. And then there's Dracula. All the gore guff and bad dialogue could be forgiven if the most revered character in horror history had something approaching charisma but Butler's Count has all the screen presence of a hair gel model and while Lustier wants us to believe he's irresistible to Mary, his powers of seduction come across as more Austin than supernatural.
It should always be remembered that Craven gave the horror genre a much needed shot of irony and comedy with his Scream franchise, but this is biting by numbers and "Wes Craven Regrets: Dracula 2001" may prove a fitting epitaph.