A lot of buzz about this animated program over the weekend, and I promised I’d watch it and review. This is based on the old Nintendo games, an action/horror thriller that was very intense when I was a kid, even on the 8-bit system. Naturally there’s been a lot of Castlevania games over the years, and it’s developed a world. I haven’t played much since the original games, so I only am aware of that.
The series opens with a woman killing a bat, which hit me right in the nostalgias. I thought oh boy, we’re going to really get a good feel for this game. that’s about the last positive thing I’ll say about it as everything turns directly on its head into a garbled, poorly written mess of a show.
The church captures her, yes the church, and then burns her as a witch in a scene that paints the clergy as these maniacal old men who seem to just delight in torture. We spent the first half an episode on this, and the clergy with the long fingernails that keep getting zoomed in on to show how bizarre he is, also conjuring in us images of actual evil witches in him, it left a sour taste for the first half of the episode. Dracula then shows up and says this was his wife, and it’s the church’s fault for setting his wrath upon the world.
Dracula is supposed to be bad, a vampire. He is almost shown as a hero/anti-hero against this wicked church-influenced humanity and it doesn’t jive. The people who are going to be saved in this show don’t have redeeming qualities in the first episode to be worth saving. His rage shows up and he goes over the top caricature evil anyway, sending all sorts of evil into the world, killing people, lots of Game-Of-Thrones-Esque shock gore which really does nothing for the plot.
In fact, a whole episode goes by and we don’t meet a protagonist, don’t really get anything out of Simon who I was hoping to meet (I’m guessing he was the one kinda hanging at the bar there while some other gross bar patrons talked?). A first episode as an extended prologue? That’s too much, and there was nothing to connect to if that were the case for 25 minutes of my time. It was a jumble, it’s anti-church, it doesn’t quite make sense, it’s just trying to shock with showing very direct gore, it’s about as dark as it gets (which i expected from Castlevania — but I expected some heroes too to fight the darkness, that balance needs to be struck), that’s enough for me to write off the whole show. There’s no point to it, and nothing to root for.
What happens with these shows is there’ll be a lot of buzz around the first watch, and when it starts to settle in, people will think about it and it won’t get nearly the amount of accolades it does now.
Netflix needs to learn how to make a show without trying to go for over the top shock value in showing how awful everyone is all the time. They seem to be incapable of doing that with House of Cards, This, Sense 8, or any of their shows. Until they break that barrier, they’re going to have a hard time holding viewers. This will be successful for its first run as everyone checks it out for the nostalgias of it, it is a brand that gets people to tune in, but shock value won’t hold forever.