Reviews for the recently released Dracula Untold are in, and the overall consensus is that the effort was rather lackluster.
One criticism of note involved the way the Dracula mythology was combined with that of an existing person known as “Vlad the Impaler.”
Said reviewer John Niccum of Dracula Untold,
Only in Hollywood can someone who earned the name Vlad the Impaler be the good guy. He’s a loving husband. A strong father. A dude positively dripping with nobility … when he’s not dripping with other people’s blood.
Here, Niccum touched on the rather interesting decision to change what would otherwise be a terrifying antagonist into the film’s main protagonist.
When you think about it, this move makes little to no sense. Dracula is a horror figure based on someone who can be considered a real-life villain.
Between man and monster, there is little room in the established mythos for an authentic representation of goodness.
There were various criticisms of Dracula Untold, but the one that stands out the most is the re-imagining of a would-be villainous hybrid as a hero. It just would have made more sense to let the bad guy BE a bad guy.
More than enough source material from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and historical accounts about Vlad the Impaler exist to create a truly chilling version of the merged characters to life.
Dracula Untold, rather than paint Vlad as a loving father figure, could have focused more on the man who allegedly:
(1) Impaled his enemies on blunt stakes and laughed as they died in agony.
(2) Ate bread soaked with the blood of his enemies.
(3) Boiled a man to death and forced others to eat his remains.
If these actions were put on screen, it could be argued that they would be far scarier than a CGI transformation into a colony of bats.
So why the reluctance to let a bad guy be bad?
It could be that making Dracula a misunderstood tragic figure with a heart of gold seemed less predictable than making him a monstrous villain.
This thinking is probably the by-product of living in a post-Twilight world.
Perhaps if someone is bold enough to pick up the pieces of this epic movie that fell a little flat, we can get a better version of Dracula Untold.
One let’s Dracula be the terrifying villain he’s meant to be while borrowing from the more twisted elements of the man he’s based on.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]