November 1st may mark the official end of spooky season, but it seems Netflix has a couple more scares up its sleeve. A bunch of cool horror movies will hit the service next month, including It Follows, Thirteen Ghosts, and When a Stranger Calls. But for me, the undoubted highlight will be Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 horror epic Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
This attempts to faithfully adapt the book, featuring Gary Oldman as Dracula, Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing, Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker, and Winona Ryder as Mina Murray. It’s a sumptuous and expensive-looking period piece that goes all out on set and costume design and revels in the Gothic atmosphere.
On its original release, it was a sizeable hit at the box office and a critical success, going on to be nominated for four Academy Awards, winning three for Best Costume Design, Best Sound Editing, and Best Makeup.
Sadly its legacy seems to be based primarily on Keanu Reeves’ terrible English accent. It’s difficult to defend this, and Reeves’ Jonathan Harker has gone on to be named as one of the dumbest casting decisions of all time, included in a list of performances that ruined movies.
I don’t think he necessarily ruins the movie, though he’s visibly struggling when sharing scenes with Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins. Coppola reflected on it in a 2015 interview, saying:
We knew that it was tough for him to affect an English accent. He tried so hard. That was the problem, actually — he wanted to do it perfectly and in trying to do it perfectly it came off as stilted. I tried to get him to just relax with it and not do it so fastidiously. So maybe I wasn’t as critical of him, but that’s because I like him personally so much. To this day he’s a prince in my eyes.
Honestly, for me, Reeves’ performance adds another level of camp to an already pretty silly movie and while it is bad, it by no means spoils the experience. Besides, there’s way more going on in this movie than simply a bad accent, with Oldman’s Dracula still my favorite on-screen interpretation of the Count.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula will hit Netflix on November 1st.