Review: Netflix's Dracula
(Developed by Mark Gatiss. Steven Moffit)
by Roy Peak
Dracula (2020 Netflix series) Full of surprises both pleasant and horrifying, the newest re-imagining of Bram Stoker's Dracula is three riveting episodes which not only bring the tale of the world's most famous vampire into the twentieth-first century, but twist the story around, taking a bite from the novel, a bite from the various theater productions,and bringing new characterizations to life to give us a story which doesn't at all, um—suck.
Now this is from Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat, the same folks who brought us the BBC show Sherlock, which was always smart with it's retelling of the world's most famous consulting detective and usually one careful step ahead of the viewer, so yes, there's a lot of talking amongst the characters here, so if you're good with that (I am) please give this one a go. One of the things I admire about Gatiss and Moffat is their attention to detail, the perfect sets, and wonderful cinematography. We can take wonder in Dracula's nineteenth century castle and it's parallels with his modern day London high-rise apartment, revel in the inexplicable episode two cliffhanger, smile when we deduce the clues given us little by little by the show's writers, and then wish that it wasn't over all too quickly after just three episodes.
One thing they address in this show is an attempt to make sense of the various vampire myths and legends: Why don't vampires have a reflection? Why is sunlight deadly to them? Why do they fear the cross? I'm not going to give it away here, but let's say they handle all this with the same wit and wisdom you'd expect from the creators of Sherlock. I do wonder if they've read one of my favorite books, namely Vampires, Burial, and Death by Paul Barber, as some of Dracula's "brides" and a few other dead folks here resemble the erstwhile revenants of Barber's book, one of the smartest books about decaying bodies I've ever read. (There's your tie-in, in case you're wondering why a literary blog would bother with reviewing a television show of all things!)
There are some great moments throughout this series: Dracula naked and bloody menacing a group of nuns, that staircase shaped like a numeral nine, various creepy flies, Jonathan Harker lost amongst the castle's winding corridors, that spooky kid in episode three, as well as several lovely and intriguingly taunt conversations between Dracula and Van Helsing, both perfectly portrayed by Claes Bang and Dolly Wells.
I serious doubt that there will be a second season of Dracula, but a guy can dream can't he?
Roy is also our music editor, read one of his reviews here. Or check out his original story This Other Me.
Roy Peak, our music editor, has played electric bass in more bands than he cares to remember for more years than he can remember. He wrote the theme song for the Utica, New York radio show "Hey You Kids, Get Off My Lawn" on WPNR-FM. His solo debut album, All Is Well, has been called "Loud, cacophonous, and beautiful by a truly unique artist." His short fiction has been published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and he writes music reviews for the King Tut Vintage Album Museum of Jacksonville.
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