20th Jul2023

‘Wrath of Dracula’ Review

by James Rodrigues

Stars: Hannaj Bang Bendz, Dean Marshall, Sean Cronin, Mark Topping, Ayvianna Snow, Carl Wharton, Jasmine Sumner | Written and Directed by Steve Lawson

Amidst a busy filmography, Wrath of Dracula marks the third 2023 released feature for writer/director Steve Lawson – including the interesting Ripper’s Revenge. Inspired by Bram Stoker’s iconic 1897 novel, the story begins with Mina Harker (Hannaj Bang Bendz) receiving a letter from her husband, Jonathan Harker (Dean Marshall), about how he’s a prisoner at Castle Dracula. She travels to Transylvania intending to help her beloved, where she discovers a decimated village fearful of the mysterious Count Dracula (Sean Cronin), and the man determined to hunt the Count, Van Helsing (Mark Topping).

Considering how often vampires are brought to the screen, particularly when adapting Stoker’s novel, it becomes difficult to find a way to make these new takes stand apart within a crowded field. Despite putting the focus onto Mina as somebody determined to destroy the vampire menace, even getting a training montage with a moody song playing over, there is, unfortunately, little which makes this film stand apart. The vampires feel like a dull grab bag of common tropes, while the titular Count is played like an attempted smooth talker that is an utter pest.

Despite having moments where they are short with each other, there is a mutual respect between the two leads which feels inspired by the central slayer/watcher relationship in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Bendz and Topping sell their characters’ inner turmoil, although they can only do so much with the heavy-handed dialogue and uninspiring humour they are given. It is all part of a film which unfortunately lacks thrills or tension, amidst dimly lit sets which feel uninspiring. It’s a shame this feature felt so disappointing, and here is hoping Lawson’s next release is a step up.

** 2/5

Wrath of Dracula is set for a UK DVD release on August 21st 2023, courtesy of High Fliers Films.


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