Series Review

Sink your teeth into 'Dracula', Netflix's latest gory vampire series

This periodic adaption of Bram Stoker's Count Dracula tale is devilishly good

12 January 2020 - 00:00 By
Claes Bang as Count Dracula.
Claes Bang as Count Dracula.
Image: Supplied

As the creators of Sherlock, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have established themselves as two of the best repurposers of classic Victorian era stories for a smartphone-obsessed 21st-century audience. So it's no surprise that the two writers have turned their attention to Bram Stoker's seminal vampire bible Dracula.

This time the focus is not on bringing the story of the bloodthirsty count into the present era, but rather on creating a period-faithful adaptation that on the whole manages to keep true to its source material while also overcoming the problem of the character's well-known screen history by referencing it and sewing it into the tale.

There are nods to Francis Ford Coppola's cult favourite Bram Stoker's Dracula; the hammy humour of the much-loved Hammer horror series starring Vincent Price, and the legendary performances of Bela Lugosi.

We begin in 19th-century Hungary where a shattered shell of a man named Jonathan Harker (Jonathan Hefferman) is interviewed by two nuns (Dolly Wells and Morfydd Clark) about the traumatic events that have led him to seek sanctuary in their convent. Harker takes his interrogators and the audience back to his appointment as a lawyer for the mysterious Count Dracula (Claes Bang) whom he was hired to help polish up his English in preparation for emigration.

As Harker begins to realise that things and the Count are not quite what they seem, the story takes a grim and gory turn and events become difficult for the narrator to recount. Thanks to witty and clever prodding from Sister Agatha (Wells), he manages to get through his terrifying tale just as Dracula makes a demonic and suitably baroque appearance at the gates.

WATCH | The trailer for 'Dracula'.

As they did with Sherlock, the creators have used smart jokes and knowing winks to the representation of their main character in pop culture to elevate the material beyond mere slavish loyalty to Stoker's novel. They've also made a smart move in casting the devilishly handsome Danish actor in the lead. Bang has the right mix of charm and humanity to make you both detest and feel a little sorry for his lonely immortal blood sucker — and keep you intrigued. He's ably supported by Wells, whose Dutch nun has an offbeat and irreverent attitude that provides plenty of good jokes and oddball approaches to fighting the prince of vampires.

Over three thrilling episodes, Gatiss and Moffat's Dracula provides enough verve, wit and visual flair to make it an adaptation that succeeds in breathing new and welcome life into a story about primeval human fears that's kept us hooked for over a century. 

• Dracula is available on Netflix.