It takes a certain amount of gall to call a story about the world’s most famous vampire “untold,” especially given that there have been over 200 films featuring the Count. Yet the new film “Dracula Untold” claims that all the same, tracking the legend (“based on a true story,” it claims) of Vlad “The Impaler” Tepes and his journey to becoming a creature of the night. Maybe the new film could provide a fresh angle for a character and horror subgenre that’s been done to the point of exhaustion.
Or maybe not. Critics have trashed “Dracula Untold” as an obvious attempt to woo the “Game of Thrones” crowd by emphasizing Vlad’s battles against armies alongside his bloodsucking proclivities. That’s be forgivable, even enjoyable, if any of the battle sequences were exciting, but most have called them undistinguished and difficult to follow. The actual Dracula material, meanwhile, has been criticized for being silly at best, dull at worst, with many arguing that there’s nothing in the film to suggest that the noble hero Vlad would be tempted by power, other than the dictates of the script. Stick with any of the countless better versions of the film instead.
“Dracula Untold” hits theaters October 10.
Scott Foundas, Variety
Whereas Francis Coppola’s 1992 “Dracula” (a veritable golden oldie in today’s short-term cultural memory) was a baroque, high-fashion free-for-all, “Dracula Untold” opts for the stately, staid approach, and even at a mere 85 minutes (sans credits) it’s something of a bore — neither scary nor romantic nor exciting in any of the ways it seems to intend…the movie never finds its own style, or feels like more than a mashup of outtakes from “Thrones” and the entire Peter Jackson catalog. Read more.
Tom Huddleston, Time Out
This is a disaster from start to finish: Action sequences are blurry and impossible to follow, the dialogue is knuckle-bitingly awful, and the rewriting of monster lore is tacky and nonsensical. Drab, silly and mind-numbing, this “Dracula” is strictly for the suckers. Read more.
Tim Robey, The Telegraph
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter
Making his feature debut, director Gary Shore displays little flair for the action sequences, with such stylistic devices as using Vlad’s POV for several scenes adding to the overall cheesiness. Matt Sazamaand Burk Sharpless’ muddled screenplay seems so intent on providing a “Maleficent”-style revisionist spin that it’s hard to believe that this heroic and sympathetic figure will ever wind up tormenting the nightmares of children for centuries to come. Read more.
But Vlad is never compellingly tempted to want more power, and despite his CGI war crimes he never seems at risk of losing his humanity. It’s simply the contrivances of romantic-tragedy plotting that force him, an hour or so later, to go all-in on the bloodsucking. Worse, Dracula Untold’s resources — of invention and money both — seem to have been spent in that opening third. Read more.