Director Derek Hockenbrough, who is not unfamiliar with the horror genre having worked as actor on Camel Spiders under the direction of Jim Wynorski, and then teamed with writers Daniel Anghelcev, Steve Snyder and Diana Angelson (who wrote and acted on her first horror film) and luckily enough to distribute it under Midnight Releasing. The first thought, a redoing of the Dracula tale, however this film takes a vastly different path, avoiding the historical aspect of the real Vlad and how his rise to power and maintain that gruesome iron fist all in the name of defending the Church. The writers take liberty with usage of witchcraft and satanic rituals by selling his soul to the devil 500-years ago, and done by slitting the throat of a Turkish soldier into a gold chalice and drinking it down – needless to state extremely puzzled. Since recently, the tales of vampire stories returns to the scream and not in the form of the Twilight series, rather with Universal taking the rightful podium position, to abandon the folklore a sadness raining down upon Stoker’s grave and gothic fans.
The plot basically is modern-day and has a group and wealthy teens headed by Adam, and six followers (friends) and who coaxes his friends from spending time at a ski lodge or sunning at a beach resort to venturing to a castle in Romania, the castle of Vlad the Impaler. He even stretches the truth for them to warm up the invite, which he pays all expenses, and through a tiresome trip the arrival of at the castle, lackluster. A rule that other filmmakers’ state, when possible allow the location to speak volumes, and a castle does the entire talking, nothing else added from the cast. The arrival greets them with a beautiful caretaker, Veronica (Diana Busuioc) and soon enough the introductions and backstories develop trying to lend credibility and the caring from the audience. Derek works to spin and ramp up the film to create atmosphere and suspense, however the cast, never seems to develop nicely and usage the location to enhance to their characters, the movie truly requires a older mature leader or grounds keeper, as for example Edward X. Young or even Bill Oberst Jr. The film never embraces the romantic gestures and styles of a vampire film, those elements left in the dust, forgotten relics.
Vlad’s story and past life is ripped to shreds, urinated on by youthful werewolf carnage, which still does not represent the depth of this travesty. Expanding on the topic of vampire films, regardless the era themes are standard, a creature that needs to feed, and brings eroticism to the levels of ecstasy driven seduction from the artistic count to a homicidal bloodthirsty beasts with the primal animalistic desires to take the prey, for a bride or a feeding. The cast provides for the most part the eye candy to tantalize the lusts by sadly the packages never unwrap to reveal and bloodcurdling screams and bathe in the warmth of blood. Missing from the film also, the suspense and thrills and only serves up a tasty morsel for the guest, Greg (Mark Jacabson) that hordes the food, with afresh dose of justice, but never completes and capitalizes on the advance body count. The casting lists Dominic (Teo Coligo), as a reincarnated Vlad, and yet a virgin, a misdirection possibly and the number of cast mates hints to the seven deadly sins hence transforming the tale back to Christianity and never finishes the thought of originality as the majority of viewers might missed this vital portion.
Many critics of this film point to the youthful age as a downfall for such rich storyline, I feel that the damage to film aside from the script came from the disregard to history and the wealth of subject material of vampirism, and harkening back to Nosferatu, Dracula, and even building off Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). Building the story with passion for the history of vampire films, and fans, deep in the gothic prowess, exploring those realms, even with a youthful cast the discovering of a tomb, or eerie whispers would create the much desire needed for the film. In the end, film best serves those who seek to watch every vampire flick and those looking for a subtle hint to the seven deadly sins and also the castle of Vlad the Impaler and seek out the divine Ivina (Mindy Robinson).