A reimagining before reimaginings were ‘cool’, “Dracula 2000” – released a mere nine days before the end of the year 2000 in America and therefore in 2001 everywhere else brings the myth of Dracula into the modern millennial age, without a smashed avocado or deconstructed cold-brew oat-milk latte in sight.
When a group of thieves break into the high tech vault of Carfax Antiques, they assume they will have their pick of rare and unique treasures. But Carfax Antiques is owned by Matthew Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer, not replacing Kevin Spacey) and the vault is not designed to prevent thieves getting in but preventing the contents getting out. Because “Matthew” Van Helsing is really Abraham Van Helsing and the occupant of the vault is none other than Count Dracula (Gerard Butler) himself.
Having kept himself alive by filtering Dracula’s immortal blood as an elixir of life, Van Helsing must not pursue the Count once again, aided only by his apprentice Simon Sheppard (Johnny Lee Miller), before Dracula can claim Van Helsing’s daughter Mary (Justine Waddell) as his own.
With much of this adventure being set in Virgin Megastores, it’s appropriate somehow that this version of Dracula is very much in the sexy, laconic rock-star vampire mould popularised by turn of the millennium so-hot-right-now horror writer Ann Rice. Butler makes for a charismatic, darkly sexy count and wastes little time in restoring his youthful good looks by feasting on the would-be antique thieves before building a new coven of brides from the lovely ladies on offer in New Orleans, including Jeri Ryan of “Star Trek: Voyager” fame.
Where previous versions of the Dracula story have attempted to give the character some historical roots by linking to the legend of Vlad Țepeș, “Dracula 2000” reaches back much further, 1,444 years further in fact to tie Dracula’s origin to his identity as Judas Iscariot who, having betrayed Jesus, attempts to commit suicide but is denied death and cursed to walk the earth as the undead. It’s a neat and well-thought-out idea, bringing a sense of cohesiveness to the Vampire’s aversion to the crucifix and silver. Unless the bread served at the last supper was a garlic ciabatta, though, it still doesn’t quite stretch to explaining that one.
It may offend Dracula purists but this is a movie determined to make Dracula flashy and modern and sexy and action-orientated, so there are no decrepit old men with bum-shaped beehive hair-dos to distract from the luxuriously-locked Count who looks like he’s wearing a shirt unbuttoned to his navel and standing in a sensual hair-tousling, blouse-ruffling breeze even when he isn’t. It’s not a masterpiece but it’s a lot of (very of its time) fun and if you’re looking for some bloody good fun with decent performances from a sexy young cast, then “Dracula 2000” has got your number. Wes Craven doesn’t just present any old rubbish, you know.