Many movies have tried to deconstruct and parody certain genres of films in recent years in hoping to bring some life or “edge” to their work. This has been done to middling success, for every Scream there’s Scary Movie 3 and so on and so forth. In the age of reboots and re-imaginations as well, many studios have tried to make classic character “fresh” or “new” again, none so more than Dracula, king of the vampires. Dracula has pervaded Western entertainment culture since Bram Stoker’s novel in the 19th century sparked and interest in that kind of character, he’s been shot as well through the lens of many talented filmmakers from Tod Browning to Werner Herzog to Francis Ford Coppola.
The Sins of Dracula attempts to have it both ways, by both parodying Christian backed “shame films” (meant to teach a lesson as to why you should never ever, ever, deviate from that beloved Holy Scripture) and vampire horror, and thankfully, with a game and very talented cast alongside some great production values and music, The Sins of Dracula bares it fangs while keeping its tongue firmly in its teeth, to the audience’s enjoyment.
Billy (Jamie Dufault) is a upstart, young man who is very much involved in his church choir group (they deal with real things, like human virgin birth, none of that secular fascination with singing cats!) and Christian living (every night is Prayer Night!). Yet, Billy seems to want to branch out and do new things, led by his supportive girlfriend Shannon (Sarah Nicklin). This leads to the godless, pagan world of secular community theater, populated by other misfits (Samantha Acampora, Jesse Dufault, Derek Laurendeau, Aaron Peaselee) and led by the charming and bizarre Lou Perdition (Steven O’Broin). Soon however, people begin to disappear, and something very Satanic is at work, with a big bloodsucker (Michael Thurber) at its center…
The acting for this movie was superb, everyone seems to bounce off one another and really had scenes they could call their own Jamie Dufault is great as the faithful Billy, he moves from seriousness to acceptance with ease and even has a great monologue where he really grows his character in a chat with God, it may be one of the best “chats” with the Big Guy I’ve seen in a long while, he proves himself as an adept leading man.
Sarah Nicklin is also great as the supportive yet secular Shannon, her wants and hopes seem natural and come from a honest place. She has great chemistry with DuFault and also works well with the rest of the cast while building her own character, really good stuff.
Steven O’Broin is fantastic as Lou Perdition. He plays Lou with such a great mix of menace and glee that it really makes Lou a compelling villain, even if you could see his deceptions and motives a mile away. His performance is one that really makes the movie work, and he almost steals the show.
Acampora, Jesse Dufault, Laurendeau and Peaslee also work well as a team while also being able to build characters. These characters are all witty, funny, and then become something more. They all really gave off the vibe as a theater troupe, a loose collection of people who have their “thing” (whether it be gaming, drugs, homosexuality, disdain for the Man, etc.) while being able to band together for a mutual hobby. They are believable performances even when things get more high concept. Carmine Capobianco is also great as Billy’s pastor who has some tricks up his sleeve. It’s great supporting work by all.
Finally. Thurber is great as Dracula, and shows his great stage presence as the Lord of the Vampires looms in every scene he’s in. Thurber doesn’t utter a single word and he still has menace in his body language and eyes. He doesn’t need talk, he’s a villain and he knows it, and in owning the space Thurber does a better job than more contemporary takes on the character (*cough*Luke Evans*cough*).
Richard Griffin direction and editing were also on point. He has a great eye for lighting and how he should shoot his characters, and it makes for some great scenery for the characters to inhabit as well as really make other aspects of the film pop. The atmosphere is never too much and it adds a nice flair, the story is also kept moving along, with no scenes really feeling gratuitous. Griffin’s choice of a retro production design from disclaimers to title cards also adds a nice touch to the overall product, he had the goal of emulating the old Hammer films and he truly nailed it.
The script was also very good, similar to They Came Together earlier this year, except for horror. This script knew what it’s main idea and joke were going to be and it made sure that it was always in on it. Some off the scenes do run a little longer than I thought they should, but that’s only a small criticism in a very fun film. The script also is peppered with nice moments and humor that kept a grin on my face for most of the movie.
Overall, outside of some longer scenes, The Sins of Dracula is damn good fun. Everything seems to click together beautifully from the acting, directing, production design and largely the script. Hopefully there is a cult following for this movie, as it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible, definitely check this one out!
The Sins of Dracula is available for purchase through Scorpio Film Releasing .