This movie has been languishing on my DVR for 5 months. I had some time on a Friday afternoon last week, and although I “should” have been writing, I grabbed some popcorn and settled in.
I’m always interested in new interpretations of the Dracula myth–I’ve read the book a couple of times, and enjoyed the 1992 movie “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” This one combines the historical figure of Vlad the Impaler (a Romanian prince who lived in the fifteenth century, known for his cruelty and impaling of his enemies) and a few elements of Bram Stoker’s vampire novel.
In Dracula Untold, Vlad (Luke Evans, that guy from Laketown in The Hobbit) is a loving husband and father, who will do anything to protect his people. Taken hostage by the Turks as a child to ensure his father’s loyalty to the sultan, Vlad now rules his kingdom and pays tribute to the Turks to keep the peace. On a scouting trip, he and his men encounter a terrifying supernatural creature in a cave atop Broken Tooth Mountain. Vlad learns that centuries before, a man had made a terrible bargain with a demon; he got the demon’s powers but became stuck in that cave forever until someone else comes along to take up the burden.
During an Easter celebration, the Turks barge in and demand 1000 boys for their armies. They also demand Vlad’s young son (Art Parkinson, young Rickon Stark in Game of Thrones) as a hostage, just as he had been held captive years before. At first, he feels compelled to acquiesce, but at the last moment changes his mind and slaughters the Turks sent to bring his boy back. Now he’s in big trouble, and needs a miracle to save his people.
He races toward Broken Tooth Mountain to face the demon-like creature he had encountered earlier–he wants his powers, and sees it as the only way to defeat the Turks.
He faces the vampire (Charles Dance, also from Game of Thrones), and agrees to his deal: he’ll get the powers, and if he refrains from drinking human blood for three days, he’ll go back to normal. If not, then he’ll be a monster for eternity, and agrees to help the present vampire get revenge on the demon who tricked him into his present state.
Simple enough, right? Right. It’s fun watching Vlad take on the entire Turkish army by himself (and with his millions of bats), but you just know things are going to go terribly wrong. He’s pretty much useless by day, his own people start to distrust and fear him, the thirst for human blood becomes unbearable, and personal tragedy isn’t far behind.
I thought this was a pretty entertaining movie for what it was, dark and sweeping and wrenching, and the ending promises a sequel at some point (remember that bargain with the original vampire?) I’d go see it.