There’s a moment during “Dracula 3D” where I had to look away from the screen and cringe in utter embarrassment. It’s not the scene with the giant mantis, but where Dracula and Mina Harker are pitching woo on the castle balcony in the night. In between the pillars you can see a night sky and moon light so badly composited on to the screen, with atmosphere so poorly made up of blatant CGI, that it’s shocking in its sloppiness. Dario Argento is much better than this. Hell, Asia Argento is much better than this.
Dario Argento in the seventies would have taken Dracula and turned the tale in to a sexual, vicious, blood soaked and disturbing descent in to evil. 2013 Dario Argento approaches Dracula with a film that’s surprisingly by the numbers. It’s formula, it’s safe, and most of all, it’s painfully shoddy. There are so many baffling moments in “Dracula 3D” that I was never sure if I should feel bad for Argento or laugh. Was “Dracula 3D” intended to be bad and tongue in cheek or did Argento simply not give a damn? Why would Dracula transform in to a giant preying mantis just to kill one man? Why would Van Helsing try to stop a vampire with two sticks made in to a cross when he should be prepared? And why do the vampires look like ball bearings when they burst in to a pile of dust?
It’s also made clear in one scene that Dracula can control the mind and wills of the weak, so why does he resort to transforming in to animals when he can just possess his victims and feast on them? “Dracula 3D” has every chance to be vicious and titillating, but it’s so rote and dull. It’s the same story we’ve seen a thousand times over except truncated for length. There’s zero tension, no build up, and Dracula’s destruction of Mina’s sister Lucy is rushed. Van Helsing also seems to just wander in to the story without much motivation, while Rutger Hauer is terribly cast. Let’s face it, Hauer’s appearance is nothing but a glorified walk on role, with Van Helsing’s role drastically reduced, while Hauer is only on screen for fifteen to twenty minutes tops.
Hauer himself just delivers every line with a mumble and a far off gleam as if he’s trying to think of what to eat for lunch, all the while Marta Gastini plays possibly the most irritating Mina ever created. Mina literally has no motivation or courage in her struggles with Dracula’s seduction, and spends most of her time either unconscious, or moping around. Nothing about “Dracula 3D” feels heartfelt or intent on re-inventing what we’ve seen re-iterated a hundred times since the thirties on film. Argento merely stuffs a bunch of B performers in sets void of atmosphere or aesthetic, and they simply go through the motions until the end credits put us out of our misery. Argento is really out of his element with “Dracula,” and seems anxious to create a new mold of the story, but can’t quite grasp what makes the story so interesting. Instead we’re given a rushed, poorly directed, and awful iteration that isn’t worthy of the Argento name.