Shot, written and directed by Michael Bayley Hughes, his film relies on many talking-head narrators. There’s really nothing wrong with that approach, as long as you don’t let them ramble, which he does. One unnecessarily showy interviewee wears a top hat and rolls his Rs; the guy is really into the thick of things, reminding one of taking a visitors’ tour and being at the mercy of its overly enthusiastic guide. Hughes also utilizes a lot of maps and beautiful scenery of Romania — or as beautiful as Romania can get.
Viewers will learn something about Stoker and his never out-of-print novel, like how he didn’t walk until the age of 7, that he introduced the word “undead” to a baffled populace, that he reportedly was lazy and may have died of syphilis if euphemisms are to be believed. Yet, the documentary never rises above the quality of a travelogue. It’s not an embarrassment; it just has no energy. —Rod Lott