body horror

[Netflix Review] Dracula (2020, Mini-Series) ★★★★☆

Count Dracula licking his fingers in Dracula mini-series 2020

Dracula is a witty, dark and fun new take on the fanged legend.


Dracula is a new take on the well known legend of Dracula. It’s a fresh take with a lot of flair, wit and a lot of gothic campy fun. You can almost say it’s ‘Sherlock’ in disguise. With similar style in dialogue, cinematography and storytelling Dracula delivers a smart and fun Sherlock with supernatural horror, body horror, humor and mystery.

With well chosen structures within each long episode, twists and turns and mystery, Dracula is a careful setup that unfolds like a chess game and keeps you interested. There is no lack of horror, brutal kills, blood or mayhem, always presented as a campy gothic horror with a lot of fun nods to the original story. 

This mini-series consists of 3 long episodes each with a duration of 90 minutes. It’s one big story, that takes place in three different settings and feels like a story with 3 acts, like a play. 


Plot

In three different episodes the story of Count Dracula unfolds. The first episode is an acquaintance with Count Dracula told by Jonathan Harker to Sister Agatha in a convent. We learn about the horrors in his castle, his bloodlust, for ‘blood is lives’ and we learn the important role of Sister Agatha.

The second episode depicts Dracula’s journey by sea with the Demeter which will bring him to England. A murder mystery, in the similar vein of an Agatha Christie whodunnit, plays out.

The third episode brings Dracula finally to his destination and his battle with Agatha continues in Londen. 


Why you should watch it

The structure of the storyline keeps you interested but most of all keeps you guessing what’s going on. Every episode contains a fun twist. But the biggest twist is that Sister Agatha’s last name is van Helsing. She is Dracula’s nemesis but more in the vein like Sherlock and Moriarty. Their battle takes place at a psychological battleground rather than with swords or guns.

She is smart, witty, bold, audacious and inquisitive and her choice of words are not very far from Bennedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. She is a delight to watch and a worthy opponent of the charismatic but brutal Dracula. Their chemistry, alongside the wit and humor and campy horror makes it a wonderful watch and a different take on the legendary story. It’s their personal battle, her need to figure out Dracula and his curiousness towards her character that makes this series original and interesting and new. 

There’s even more fun in the questions Agatha asks about the legend of Dracula without mocking the original story, when she wonders why he can’t abide sunlight, has to be invited in, or why he hates the cross, because it’s all so nonsensical. It’s just a fun nod to the incomprehensible supernatural. 

The series has beautiful art decoration. The castle and ship are excellent settings for gothic horror and the body horror is well made and brings some terrifying scares. The undead are absolutely gory, and spot on. This series is a horror delight and the body horror brought on by Dracula himself is frightful and bloody and sticky. The pace is sometimes a bit slow, with focus on the dialogue, but never feels dull. 

While this new take is a customized tale that reflects the storytelling of both Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, it strongly depends on the original story by Bram Stoker. This works out very well in the first two episodes, but unfortunately the last episode can feel a bit rushed. Original characters must find their way into the story, which can come across as forced and rushed. The series ends with a conclusion of Agatha about the legend of Dracula and this is also too rushed, rather simplistic and feels like an anticlimax. It is a big contrast to the excellent brilliant first two episodes.


My favorite part

The second act is by far my favorite. It’s like an Agatha Christie murder mystery with quaint characters, a mystery cabin no. 9, a ferocious but charismatic Dracula and a spectacular finale. New characters are brought in at sea and they all have their own little secrets and nowhere to hide. It’s a fun, mysterious and thrilling episode in which all the characters have their own time to shine. The structure is a mysterious chess game that slowly unfolds and this episode feels new but very welcome to the Dracula saga.

I also really love Agatha and the chemistry between her and Dracula but the ending of the third episode doesn’t do them both justice. Her character feels absolutely normal and essential to the story like her character could always have been a part of the original story. She lights up every scene she’s in and is a real asset to the series. It’s  a very well done series and it’s regrettable that it is only a mini-series with a unsatisfying conclusion. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★☆

Originality: ★★★★★

Scare factor: ★★★★☆

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★


Cast and crew

Dracula is based on the original story written by Bram Stoker in 1897. This series is created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. It stars Claes Bang (Dracula) and Dolly Wells (Agatha), John Heffernan (Jonathan Harker), Lydia West (Lucy Westenra) and Samuel Blenkin (Piotr).

Music: David Arnold, Michael Price. Cinematography: Tony Slater Ling, Julian Court. Production companies: Hartswood Films, BBC, Netflix. Original network: BBC, Netflix.


Check the trailer below


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