At the movies, it seems that everyone’s entitled to an origin story, even Dracula — so here we are with Dracula Untold, which takes us back to the 15th century to remind us that being a vampire is no easy gig. Long before Bram Stoker had eyes to twinkle, we’re told, Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans, nicely coifed) was making a deal with a truly nasty demon (Charles Dance, made up to look like Voldemort’s less well-preserved cousin) to give him the strength to crush his enemies. The good news: Consider them crushed. The bad news: Well, let’s just say that impressively throbbing vein on Vlad’s lovely wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) — the vein that gets its very own dramatically lit close-up, and probably its own agent — is looking awfully tasty.
Dracula Untold, directed by Gary Shore (in an unimpressive feature debut), isn’t really a horror film; it’s more of an action movie with a little bloodsucking thrown in on the side. And, unfortunately, it falls into that far-too-large category of studio offerings that aren’t good enough to be noteworthy or terrible enough to be truly entertaining. Its CGI effects — mostly murky blue mountains, blurry thousands of troops and Vlad occasionally being transformed into a flock of bats — look fairly low-rent; its cast is handsome but uninspired. Only Dance, swishing around his character’s creepily long tongue and hissing threats like, “I’ll rip you open from your belly to your brain and feed you your intestines,” seems to be having any fun. The swords zing; the movie doesn’t.
Cast: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon, Charles Dance.
Director: Gary Shore.
Screenwriters: Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless.
A Universal Pictures release. Running time: 92 minutes. Intense sequences of warfare, vampire attacks, disturbing images and some sensuality. Playing at area theaters.