Monday, December 16, 2013

Fanfiction Done Right

You should recognize that word if you've spent any amount of time on the internet looking up your favorite films or TV shows. Fanfiction is exactly that, stories written by the fans. And it is with rare exception the most godawful writing in the English language.

Dracula, currently airing on NBC is one of those exceptions. It's not an adaptation and it goes above and beyond a reimagining - Vlad Tepes arrives in London under the guise of Alexander Grayson, in league with Abraham Van Helsing and assisted by the brilliant Black Renfield in a grand revenge plot against the Ordo Dracul.

And he has a katana. Because katanas.

This is the stuff of steampunk paperbacks but it works surprisingly well here, thanks mainly to casting. Jon Rhys Meyers looks every part the superior vampire lord and, as anyone who's seen The Tudors should know, can work up a head of crazy so good - and hammy - that you forget he's usually the smallest person in the room. Especially alongside Nonso Anozie as Renfield, Dracula-Grayson's stoic and stubbornly loyal dogsbody, who carry's himself with a stern and silent dignity no matter how much Anglo racism is thrown his way.

Because he's smarter than all of 'em put together. And has better teeth.
Instead of coming out of his ancestral backwater to menace Englishwomen, like in Stoker's novel, this Dracula comes across more as the Byronic hero, "implacable in revenge yet capable of deep and strong affection." He hates the Ordo Dracul and would like very much to rip and tear and impale them to the last man now, but Van Helsing - the real diabolical genius here - urges caution. So his own revenge can be that much more complete. And Dracula himself is a little distracted by Mina Murray, again the reincarnation of his centuries dead wife like in Coppola's film - when not bedding the Ordo Dracul vampire slayer played by the unfortunately named Victoria Smurfit who is  a cross between Buffy, a femme fatale, and a whole mess of plastic surgery.

The female mantis, after copulation, removes the male's head...

Aside from vampires and character names, this Dracula has damn near nothing to do with theoriginal novel. And that's a good thing. Stoker's Dracula, while a seminal work of gothic adventure fiction, has been adapted to screen and television and comic book more than any other intellectual property. It's reached the point where people who've never even read the novel can recognize the characters, the plot, even the odd line or two like the one concerning children of the night. Dracula (2013) is a welcome change from all that, even when it can get a tad silly at times.

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