All the boxes were checked: Atmospheric, fully-realized elaborate sets, eerie lighting, gruff sea men, and perfect vintage detail. But something was missing: a solid story. Which makes sense since it's loosely based on one chapter of Bram Stoker's Dracula. There's just not enough there, there.
Given the slight story, one would imagine that the characters would be given lavish backstories and dialogue. They were not, and barely given anything but rudimentary talking points, making the very good actors work overtime to try to bring something meaningful to the screen. So it's not plot driven or character driven, so that leaves the action. There is action, but it's repetitive, unsuspensful, and surprisingly boring. This is DRACULA we're taking about!! And he looks menacing and beautifully produced and what looked like a practical effects monster.
If it's not clear, the disappointment left me wondering what went wrong. The director, Andre Overdal's recent films (The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and Troll Hunter) are some of my favorites of years past. There was clearly a lot of money thrown at this production, and the marketing push was significant. Again, the pieces were all there but the heart was not, and nothing elicits much fear or fright. Knowing how the story will end (if you are familiar with the story) didn't help raise the stakes. And in the end, we have a very pretty picture with nothing to tell.