This lackluster contemporary adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic novel "Dracula" suffers from low-budget constraints, colorless direction, and amateurish performances. Writer & director Patrick McManus has certainly read the vintage 1897 novel, but he generates few palatable thrills and chills with the surefire material. A huge part of the problem is the absence of the Gothic characteristics, and the way that McManus has staged everything in such a straightforward fashion. Specifically, McManus has changed the sex of Dr. Seward; instead, he has become a she. Renfield still performs Dracula's errors, but he is a well-mannered, urbane gentleman with a shaved head who doesn't giggle fiendishly or catch flies. Quincy Morris is no longer a cowboy. Stuart Rigby headlines as the legendary bloodsucker, but he doesn't inspire anxiety of any sort. When he goes into menace mode, his entire face appears cadaverous, and he transfixes his victims with his steely-eyed stare. Neither the ghosts of either Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee need to worry about their legacy. Dracula doesn't shape-shift into bats and wolves. Crucifixes exert no harm on him when humans brandish them in his presence. Worse, poor Rigby bears a hilarious resemblance to superstar actor Tom Cruise. Mind you, "Dracula Reborn" doesn't really get down and dirty until the finale when our heroes go after Dracula with sharpened stakes.
McManus has shifted the setting from England to sunny Southern California, and Premiere company real estate agent Jonathan Harker (Corey Landis of "Chrysalis") feels bad about selling a warehouse to Vladimir Sarkany (Stuart Rigby of "Meet the Spartans") during a late evening in Los Angeles. A trio of armed Hispanic thugs shows up to threaten Sarkany, but the well-dressed gentleman calmly stares them down and they leave hurling insults. Harker goes back home to celebrate the impending sale with his 28-year old wife, Lina Harker (Victoria Summer of "The Zombie Diaries"), who is desperate to have a child. Jonathan isn't as enthusiastic about the prospect of being a father as much as Lina is a mom. Meantime, Harker meets with Sarkany again to go over the papers, and he notices a nude painting of a woman hanging in Sarkany's house that reminds him of his wife. He shows Sarkany a photo of his wife on his cell phone and Sarkany admits that he would be delighted to meet her. After Harker leaves Sarkany's residence, he surprised by a frantic man, Quincy Morris (Krash Miller of "Spoils of War") who has concealed himself in the back seat of Harker's Toyota Prius. You would think that it would be rather difficult not to spot an intruder hidden in the back seat of a Prius. Nevertheless, Harker's unwanted guest wields a stick and demands to know about Harker's relationship with Sarkany. This unkempt stranger complains that his girlfriend, Lucy Spencer (Linda Bella of "The Paper Boat") disappears at Sarkany's house when she is discussing a real estate deal with Sarkany. According to Quincy, he saw Sarkany bite Lucy on the neck. Quincy is startled when Sarkany spots him eavesdropping, and he tries to flee. Sarkany confronts him and hurls him into a deep ditch. After Harker convinces this lunatic that he is not one of Sarkany's confederates, Quincy asks to be taken to a nearby police station. Two plainclothes detectives visit Sarkany's residence. Later, Harker brings his wife out to visit Sarkany to see the painting, and Lina comments that the resemblance is striking between them. During their drive home, Jonathan and Lina find themselves stranded when their Prius mysteriously stops. The spent the night in the woods because they cannot get cell phone service. Sometime during the evening, Harker has a nightmare and Lina discovers what they believe are spider bites. The Harkers' physician, Dr. Joan Seward (Dani Lennon of "The Slammin' Salmon"), points out that Lina is afflicted with anemia. Furthermore, she discovers later on that Lina has some kind of organism in her blood that is neither bacteria nor a virus. She states that the organism seems to be rapidly multiplying. Afterward, Harker encounters Quincy again, and Quincy is quite adamant about killing Sarkany. Sarkany has been framed by Dracula. Dracula has chopped Lucy's head off, deposited her head in Quincy's trunk, and sent the cops after Quincy. Unfortunately, Quincy doesn't survive long. He is run down in the street by Renfield driving a mini-bus. Nevertheless, Harker receives a worn, well-thumbed copy of a book about vampires that Quincy had sent him. Harker arrives home to find Lina transformed into a vampire and summons Dr. Seward who administers an injection that knocks Lina out. After Harker learns about Quincy's demise, Van Helsing (Keith Reay of "Dark Space") shows up, and he gives Harker a short course on vampires. "A vampire is always on guard. He can sense your every move, read your thoughts, and in an emotional state like this, can take over your mind, bend you to its will. I have experienced this horror with my own eyes. Now, we can't tip our hand. We have to outsmart him. Strike during the daylight hours while it is in repose." Unfortunately, Van Helsing turns out to be less than resourceful when Harker and he intrude on Dracula's warehouse where he sleeps in his coffin and has Lina stretched out nearby in repose. Harker manages to save Lina, but little does he know that she is beyond the point of no return where being a vampire is concerned. The death of Van Helsing ranks as the most violent scene, especially when Dracula rips his heart out of his chest.
"Dracula Reborn" is a mild improvement over the World War II adventure "Spoils of War." This is one of those horror movies were evil triumphs.
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