Dracula 2000 [2000]

As a director, Wes Craven has been able to infuse his horror movies with humor and some smart, often genuinely creepy, thrills, even on his lowest-budgeted films. As a producer of horror movies, well, his record has been spotty at best. Craven tapped his longtime editor Patrick Lussier to direct Dracula 2000, and the movie ends up with all the good and bad of "a Wes Craven production." A modern-day update of the Dracula legend, the script has some genuinely good ideas. Christopher Plummer (The Insider) takes a relatively juicy role as Van Helsing, owner of an antiques shop specializing in ancient weapons. He takes exception to how his namesake was portrayed in Bram Stoker's classic novel, which he's more than happy to tell his assistant (Jonny Lee Miller, "Sick Boy" from Trainspotting) without telling him the whole story. When Omar Epps leads a band of high-tech criminals to break into Van Helsing's high security vault (thinking that with so much security there's got to be something extremely valuable in there), what they end up stealing is the body of Dracula, who of course awakens from his slumber. When the story shifts to New Orleans, where Van Helsing's estranged daughter is working for the local Virgin Megastore (here metaphor is replaced by product placement), Dracula is drawn to her. The undead start to multiply, and the vampire hunt resumes. Another excellent idea deals with a new origin to Dracula, flashing back to biblical times to explain his aversion to silver and crosses. But there is a downside. Under the inept direction of Lussier the movie is never scary, inspiring instead an occasional feeling of pity for the actors. Overall, this a vampire movie for the mind, not the heart. --Andy Spletzer

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