Director Jessica M. Thompson
Screenplay Blair Butler
Starring Nathalie Emmanuel, Thomas Doherty, Stephanie Corneliussen, Alana Boden, Hugh Skinner, Sean Pertwee

One never knows who they might end up related to when taking a DNA test. Evie (Emmanuel) gets one in a goodie bag at an event she is working as wait staff. After she takes it, she finds she is related to Oliver Alexander (Skinner) who immediately invites her to a family reunion / wedding back “home” in England.

Evie accepts the invitation and once she arrives, she is impressed by the lord of the manor Mr. De Ville (Doherty) in which the events are taking place. Similarly, she is offput bythe way the head butler Mr. Field (Pertwee) treats the maids. This makes sense since they are essentially doing the job she does back home in New York. She tries to connect with a few of them. instantly, in the askance looks given by others, we know the maids are not long for this world.

The dialogue in the film is rather heavy handed. From the endless meandering exposition of De Ville – who wants to drop his “charade,” the maids of honor with a conspicuously absent bride to Mr. Field and Ms. Swift who is Evie’s assigned personal assistant telling Evie what is off limits don’t leave any room for the viewer to wonder what is going to happen next.

On the plus side is Emmanuel, who was a standout in Game of Thrones as Missandei. She is an extremely natural actress who makes even the most banal dialogue feel authentic. It would be nice to see her tackle a more complex plot. When every event of the film lacks the suprise element, the story can go only in one direction. She’s capable of more, one would think.

The story and direction are both roles filled by women. Knowing that, it would have been nice to see not so many powerless female servants sacrificed in the film. This feels a rather obvious attempt at a political messsage. It was hopeful the perspective would not be so plain. At just over the halfway point, all illusion is dropped and Doherty and company begin to overact to such an extent, it makes Jon Lovitz’ Master Thespian character look reserved by comparison.

The estate is a nice touch. There are plenty of creepy locations in the New Carfax Abbey to give an aura of mystique. If they could only be less obvious as to blow away the mystique before ever having a chance to fully mature into a scare, it would be a much more exciting film.

Having the only people she sees in town being named Harker? Really?

There are no suprises through the second half of the film and consequently, it’s merely a waiting game. Are there any visuals worth the cost of time slipping away for another subpar Dracula movie? By the time the credits roll, we’ve seen as much digital animation as anything, so that would be a fairly obvious negative.

Save your time and watch something original, or at least something that can create a mood beyond waiting for the credits.

(** out of *****)

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