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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
Have you ever watched a movie and didn't like it. But you have friends who love it and are convinced that, if you only see it again, you'll like it (such things are possible - maybe I was in a bad mood that day/evening I first saw it, who knows?) Then later on, you watch it again and kind of like it. With each subsequent viewing you like it a little more. You never actually love it, it's too flawed, but you learn to appreciate what the film makers were going for.
That's been my relationship over the past seven years with DRACULA 2000. There have been many attempts to update the Dracula mythos for a specific year. The Italian DRACULA 1971 comes to mind. The British DRACULA A.D. 1972 with Christopher Lee is another. And we even go into the future with the South African DRACULA 3000, which is not a sequel to this film.
Long time Wes Craven film editor, Patrick Lussier (THE PROPHECY 3, DRACULA II, DRACULA III, WHITE NOISE 2) took his second shot at directing a film he co-wrote with Joel Soisson (HOLLOWMAN II - he also produced this). With Wes Craven and the Weinstein Brothers as producers, Patrick pulled off what is arguably his best Horror movie ever (I'm arguing that it is his best).
DRACULA 2000 begins with a few trappings of Stoker's DRACULA here and there, more fragments than any linear story. The film makers expect you to know the legend and give a brief recap during the opening credits.
Then we see a building that incorporates both nineteenth century architecture and the very latest 20th Century form. This is the Carfax antiques, run by Matthew Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer: INSIDE MAN). The old man is a collector of antiquities and apparently is very successful at it, though he keeps nearly half of all he collects for his private collection. His two top assistants are Simon Sheppard (Jonny Miller: HACKERS, ÆON FLUX) and Solina (Jennifer Esposito: I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, THE PROPOSAL). Simon appears loyal to a fault, protective even, of his employer. He also has a past with Solina, or at least thinks he did.
One night, some very high tech and well equipped thieves break into Carfax, disable the guards, and flawlessly enter the most well protected most high security areas of the building without effort. The reason it was so easy soon makes itself apparent, but what they are after is not so easily discovered. The thieves, led by Marcus (Omar Epps: SCREAM 2) don't actually know what they are after. The idea was: anything so incredibly and expensively guarded must be worth a fortune.
But Matthew Van Helsing has a direct connection to Bram Stoker's Abraham Van Helsing, and what is contained within the final part of the vaults is something that every Horror fan knows even if the thieves do not. Like an episode of the Columbo Mysteries, the movie has already let us know what's going on. Now we watch as the thieves unravel their inevitable doom.
The remaining thieves make their way to a private plane (well-heeled thieves) with a silver coffin in tow, and are on their way to America. Merry mishaps occur and the plane crashes in the swamps of Louisiana, thus Dracula is introduced into the new world of America. Not for nothing it seems, as the daughter of Van Helsing, Mary (Justine Waddel: THR3E) goes to school in New Orleans.
Yes, of course Dracula was in the silver coffin. This Dracula (Gerard Butler: 300), is not Count Vlad, former ruler of Transylvania. His past goes much farther back.
DRACULA 2000 is aided by great performances of all involved and atmospheric cinematography by Peter Pau (THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR).
Though this is a good movie, it also gets an
!!!UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT!!!:
What IS the URCA exactly? Go to the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT page.
DRACULA 2000 has a few "too clever" and "too cute" moments during scenes which could have pulled off the chills and fear very well if the makers would have only went with that instead of comedic relief (the news crew in the bayou is one example), thus the reason for my initial resistance to this film. But the overwhelming loneliness of Gerard Butler's Dracula: an immortal born, not bitten, is rarely more acute; presented in hints and clues throughout the film, in many subtle scenes, instead of the usual melodramatic exposition we've come to expect.
Not good enough for high rank, but too good to be ignored, is why I give DRACULA 2000 Three Shriek Girls.