Dario Argento used to be a rather highly regarded filmmaker but the general consensus is that his career has trailed off in recent years. Is Dracula 3D a return to form?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfzwSfDXnAE]

To be blunt: no. Dracula 3D is a baffling, terrible piece of slocky, hack film-making. The film doesn’t really follow Stoker’s classic story and what little prose it lifts from it is completely ruined. There’s nothing of worth contained within its 106 minutes. The script, written by Argento and a few others, is so horrendous it’ll ruin your faith in the written word, with non-existent character motivations and depth. On top of that its contents are delivered by woefully incompetent actors, most of which seem to possess no real talent, over-exaggerating their body movements and looking generally stupid.

And on top of that layer of shit, most of the dialogue is obviously dubbed. You’ll see lips move out of sync or not at all as lines that appear to have been read without any context to a given scene, with accents as wishy-washy as a drunk Alzheimer’s patient at the supermarket. Calling it wooden would be an insult to trees. Even when Rutger Hauer shows up, bringing with him the hope of a new level of scenery-chewing, he instead opts for a reserved, subdued portrayal of Van Helsing. It can’t even do bad right. All this is conducted with out-of-touch and tone-deaf direction from Argento. It might be time to retire. Not that this film leaves much dignity behind.

A tasteful scene from Dracula 3D

This is just unfathomably terrible film-making.  The set design is flat-out awful, with the studio sets looking completely fake and even the real on-location castle scenes looking too clean, giving them a fake sheen. This problem is exacerbated by the dire cinematography, with the film shot almost completely in medium-long shots. This leaves the majority of the frame completely barren, bringing into stark clarity the lacking sets.

The film is completely tensionless, even though the subtle-as-a-brick-to-the-face score seems to think you should be feeling tense throughout. The little action there is has no rhythm or flow, blowing its load within seconds with uninteresting and unimpactful CG gore. On the subject of CG, Dracula 3D includes some of the outright worst imagery to ‘grace’ the screen, with sub-amateur YouTube video green-screen and mid-90s quality creatures erasing what little chance of immersion and suspension of disbelief the film had. And they don’t make any concessions to hide their lack of digital talent, with the eye-scarring imagery often filling the screen.

There’s also an air of pornography about the entire thing. It’s not that there’s any sexual tension or passion on display, it just that it looks so cheap and is so glaringly lacking in subtlety that you’ll always have this niggling feeling that people are about to break into full-on hardcore sex the entire time. They don’t. A shame really, as many of the dreadful actors are quite attractive. And at least it would’ve been more interesting than what actually happens.

At first you might think that this is all being done with a knowing wink and a nod, but soon it dawns on you that the film appears to take itself completely seriously. Quickly thereafter the laughs garnered by its awfulness dry up and you’re left with a sad piece of cinema that any film student would be ashamed of.

Final Verdict: Dracula 3D is a complete filmmaking failure, adding absolutely nothing of worth to anything. Sure, you might get a few laughs out of its incompetence but you’ll still be left with a film that is sub-porn quality. When the most interesting moral quandary your film produces is whether not a gratuitous shot of your naked daughter (Asia Argento) is disturbing or not, you have an impotent turd in your hands.

(That’s 0 stars for those not in the know)

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