The Netflix Action Fantasy Thriller That Tried To Start A Franchise

By Charlene Badasie | Published

The 2014 action horror film Dracula Untold is streaming on Netflix. Directed by Gary Shore, the movie serves as an origin story for Count Dracula, diverging from Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel. In this reimagining, Dracula is the monstrous alter ego of the historical figure Vlad III “the Impaler” Dracula. Luke Evans plays the titular character alongside Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Art Parkinson, and Charles Dance.

Luke Evans As Vlad The Impaler

Dracula Untold is set in the 15th century against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Wallachia. Vlad (Luke Evans) is introduced as a noble and just ruler known for his brutal but effective methods of maintaining order. But when the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper) demands that Vlad’s son Ingeras (Art Parkinson) join his army, Vlad is faced with an impossible choice.

To protect his people and his family, Vlad searches for a way to defend Wallachia against the formidable Ottoman forces. In his quest for power, Vlad ventures into Broken Tooth Mountain, where he encounters a powerful and ancient vampire named Caligula (Charles Dance). Caligula offers Vlad his vampiric abilities, including superhuman strength and speed, as well as the ability to transform into bats and control other creatures of the night.

Dracula Untold Serves As An Origin Story

However, Vlad must resist his newfound bloodlust for three days, or he will become a vampire for eternity, setting the stage for the origin portion of Dracula Untold. After gaining these powers, Vlad returns to Wallachia and uses them to defeat the initial wave of Ottoman invaders with astonishing ferocity. As the deadline approaches, Vlad is faced with external threats while struggling with his own dark nature.

The climax of Dracula Untold features a large-scale battle between Vlad and the Ottoman forces. Vlad, now fully embracing his vampiric abilities, unleashes his powers in a visually striking confrontation. The outcome of the battle has significant implications for Vlad’s people and his own destiny. The film also hints at Vlad’s presence throughout history, leaving room for potential sequels.

The Film Brilliantly Blends Multiple Genres

While Dracula Untold follows the general trajectory of a classic superhero origin story, it adds a dark and supernatural twist to Vlad the Impaler, blending fantasy, horror, and action elements. The story also explores the cost of power, the choices individuals make in the face of overwhelming odds, and the eternal struggle between good and evil.

The Dark Universe Franchise


Dracula Untold was directed by Gary Shore, making his feature film debut. The screenplay is written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. The film was produced by Michael De Luca and distributed by Universal Pictures. The movie was filmed in Northern Ireland, and the production design aimed to capture the medieval atmosphere of the setting.

The movie was released in various international markets in October 2014 and later in the United States in October 2014. Dracula Untold was initially intended to be the first installment in Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe, a shared cinematic universe featuring classic monsters. However, the film’s connection to the Dark Universe was later abandoned.

The Story Was Not Well Received

Dracula Untold received mostly negative reviews from critics. While some praised the visuals, action sequences, and Luke Evans’ performance, others criticized its lack of originality and adherence to certain genre conventions. The pacing and character development also faced criticism. Still, the movie performed moderately well at the box office, earning over $217 million against a budget of $70 million.

The True Story Of Vlad Tepes

The real-life Vlad Tepes was a prince of Wallachia (Tara Romaneasca) who reigned for two months as a puppet of the Turks in 1448 and then for six years from 1456 to 1462. Charles Dance, who played the role of Master Vampire in Dracula Untold, passed the time in the makeup chair by sleeping through the process. He would wake up startled at the sight of his reflection in the mirror.

Dracula Untold’s production designer, François Audouy, drew inspiration from Giant’s Causeway for Caligula’s lair, Broken Tooth Mountain, and specifically from the area’s bath salt formations. The movie’s writers played with the mystery surrounding Caligula’s death and where he was buried. There were even hits at his survival and the reasons behind it.

Dracula Untold aims to humanize the Dracula character by portraying him as a conflicted and reluctant hero rather than a straightforward villain. It’s definitely worth checking out on Netflix.