Review: Dracula

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Outstanding

With a combination of directional scripts and memorable character development, the TV show is nothing short of terrific.

  • 10

Everybody is familiar with Bram Stoker’s 1857 gothic tale of Dracula, the novel triggered the idea of the vampire fantasy which subsequently has been adapted many times, captivating the attention of many teenaged minds. However, if you’re after something with a little bit more bite, and not intended for the faint-hearted, Mark Gatiss’ and Stephen Moffat’s adaptation of Dracula is nothing short of extraordinary. A three-parter, each a 90-minute episode of blood-sucking fun, the adaptation strives not to be a modern re-make, which we have seen from Gatiss and Moffat in the past, but a cornucopia of gothic conventions. It has everything you could ever want. A dark, unmappable labyrinthine castle, gnarled hands resting ominously on balconies and the stereotypical Translyvania accent of Count Dracula himself. 

The story itself unfolds in two-time frames, the ‘Now’ and the ‘Then’. We begin in the Now where we see Jonathon Harker, (John Hefferman, The Loch & Collateral) who is strangely and disturbingly deformed relaying his story to Sister Agatha (Dolly Wells, Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy & Bridget Jones’ Diary) – who, is, in fact, the best nun ever, no lie – whilst residing in a Hungarian nunnery. Sister Agatha becomes an integral character to the series as we learn she is investigating the tale of Harker as he claims to have escaped the man he calls ‘Count Dracula’. As well as being the detective of this case Agatha becomes a strong vessel of comedy, quirky idioms and sarcasm. Jonathon Harker is a lawyer who, very much like Sister Agatha, is presented with the same utter conviction and belief through a script and direction which are both refreshingly void of any cynism or disparagement toward the idea of blood-sucking beasts. 

Claes Bang, however, brings a multi-dimensional profile to the Count himself in the nasty, viciously funny series, representing him as a frail, dying old man at the beginning, only to morph into the insatiable, carnal menace of Count Dracula himself. In order to bring an intriguing new perspective to the iconic demonic shape-shifter, Bang studied many representations of Dracula himself as to not block the character’s long screen-history. The role of Dracula shows quite a turnaround for the actor as Bang suspected he had been left behind by the glory of cinematic miracles and the entertainment industry. This is what makes this perspective and representation of Bang’s Dracula all the more enjoyable and impressive. Beautifully capturing not only the sardonic and gluttonous qualities to the ‘Prince of Darkness’ Bang incorporates loneliness in a somewhat sympathetic manner adding a layer of sadness to the led lined exterior of Dracula. 

It’s a bloodstained love letter and homage to Bram Stoker’s ever celebrated character and novel, beautifully and delicately scented with just the faintest hints of the erotic, gothic and spine-chilling conventions. Celebrating all the Counts that have been before, whilst simultaneously being its own thing. It’s definitely something to sink one’s teeth into.  

All episodes of Dracula are available to stream via BBC iPlayer now. Watch the trailer for the series below:

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