Netflix’s Dracula is refreshingly evil: Review and recap

The Netflix original series Dracula introduces a very charming, handsome and exceptionally evil Vlad Dracula, played by Claes Bang.

In Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat’s refreshing remake of a classic story, BBC-Netflix’s Dracula brings a new perspective than previous remakes of Bram Stoker’s story.

The first episode, “The Rules of the Beast,” begins with a feeble and ghastly looking man in a convent. A nun enters with another nun in tow to observe the questioning.

The nun introduces herself as Sister Agatha Van Helsing (Dolly Wells). You got it! The dreaded monster hunter Van Helsing is a nun in Saint Mary’s Convent, in Budapest.

The sickly man is none other than Jonathan Harker (John Heffernan), and Sister Agatha wants to know everything that happened between him and Count Vlad Dracula, including anything sexual.

In the novel, the story is told from Jonathan Harker’s point of view, but he wasn’t in a convent when he told it. The narrative in the novel was as the events happened, so this deviated not only from the novel but all the movie remakes, as well.

When we do a flashback to how Harker arrived at Dracula’s castle, it begins very similarly to how Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)opened, and I could feel my disappointment beginning. I was hoping for something a little different than this.

In the scene, Harker is standing in the middle of a snow-covered courtyard with wolves howling in the night, and when he enters the castle, his host is nowhere to be seen. He sees the food-ladened table and assumes it is for him, so he helps himself. While he is making a plate for himself, we see a hand with long fingernails, Dracula’s hand, running lightly across the upstairs railing, while his shadow flits across the dining room below.

Dracula appears, to Harker, as a decrepit failing old man, but as each day passes Dracula begins to look younger and younger while Harker is getting older. Eventually, Harker learns that Dracula is sucking his blood, and that’s why Dracula is growing younger while he ages rapidly. Dracula appears to enjoy every moment of this and doesn’t feel any remorse for his actions.

In the first episode, we also get caught up with the romantic love story of Dracula and his beloved Mina. While enjoying this romance, we forget that the vampire was a warlord when he was human. He ruled Walachia from 1456 to 1462 and literally impaled his enemies. He was not a nice man, and Bang brings that warlord to exquisite life in this episode.

Dracula tells Harker he is going to die, but before Harker does die, Dracula wants him to tell him what the sun looks like. Dracula wants the suffering and dying Harker to describe the sun to him before he took his last breath. This gives you an idea of what the count is going to be like in the series.

Myths say that the cross, holy water, and daylight are dangerous to vampires. We also know that vampires need blood to survive, but in this series, Dracula inherits the memories and skills of his victims.

This was one of the reasons Dracula wanted Harker to stay with him for a month. He wanted to learn the language and customs of England before moving there, which he obtained by drinking Harker’s blood.

Dracula also has the nifty ability to shapeshift, basically, into the form of another’s body, which comes in handy a little later in the episode.

Harker, not knowing he is now one of the undead, seeks his death by throwing himself off the castle ramparts into the water below. He is rescued and taken to the convent to recuperate and interrogated. Dracula, then, raids the convent to get him back.

In the process, he kills all the nuns and eventually corners Sister Agatha and another nun who happens to be Mina Murray (Morfydd Clark) in a prayer room.

Sister Agatha plans to take their final stand in the prayer room encircled by a ring of communion wafers. Harker, who gave Dracula permission to enter the convent, apologizes to Mina. Sister Agatha tells Mina not to trust him as he is being controlled by Dracula.

Mina believes her love is strong enough to help Harker resist Dracula’s pull and invites him into the circle where he tears his face off to reveal Dracula. He isn’t interested in Mina except as possible food, but Sister Agatha offers herself if he lets Mina go. That’s where the episode ends.

Mina escapes, and Dracula is left alone with Sister Agatha Van Helsing.

Dracula is so evil with his own strange moral code, but he is also charming and good-looking that you can’t help liking him. It’s obvious that Sister Agatha is his match, and they play off each other so smoothly like in a chess game that you wonder who is going to win the final match. So, I’m not worried about Sister Agatha, she will be returning in the second episode.

I’m definitely interested in watching the other two episodes because I want to see where this story is going and how it’s going to end. Gatiss and Moffat have done an excellent job in grabbing and keeping the audience’s attention.

On to episode 2!

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