Dracula 2000

The official title of this thing is “Wes Craven Presents Dracula 2000,” a bit of gimmickry designed to fool us into thinking the man who directed “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and the “Scream” movies was responsible for this one, too. Surely the combined forces of the modern master of horror and one of the most terrifying creatures in all of literature should result in some big-time fright.

But like a reflection-less vampire, “Dracula 2000” has no soul. Wes Craven, it turns out, is merely executive producer — one of five people credited with that title. (Why not call it “Harvey Weinstein Presents Dracula 2000”? At least that wouldn’t give audiences any false impressions.) “Dracula 2000” was directed by Patrick Lussier, Craven’s favorite film editor taking his first legitimate stab at directing.

The directing, actually, is one of the better points in this foolish little piece of Goth trash. There are no obvious signs of incompetence, and it’s even a little stylish in places. Were it not for the script, which breaks standard vampire rules and even makes up a few new ones (which it also breaks), you’d think this was actually a pretty good movie.

Mysterious, vaguely European Dr. Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer) is an antiques collector in London with a strange fascination for things vampiric. One night a group of bumbling crooks, led by one of Van Helsing’s employees, Solina (Jennifer Esposito), busts into his safe and steals the only artifact they can find: a coffin.

While en route to the Cayman Islands, the coffin is opened by one of the stooges and is revealed to contain … nothing. Kidding. It contains Dracula (Gerard Butler), a handsome fellow with stylish hair and a come-hither smile who proceeds to vampirize everyone on the plane, which crashes in a swamp near New Orleans.

Meanwhile, Van Helsing, flanked by his do-gooder assistant Simon (Jonny Lee Miller), has come to New Orleans as well, looking for his estranged daughter Mary (Justine Waddell). Mary hasn’t seen Dad in years and doesn’t know about his fondness for vampires, but she’s been having dreams about Dracula lately and is mighty freaked out by them.

Van Helsing, it turns out, is actually a very old man, having captured Dracula in 1897 only to find that he’s some kind of Uber-vampire who can’t be killed, even by traditional vampire-killing methods. (He doesn’t seem to have tried cutting of his head, which it seems to me would kill pretty much anyone, or at least make it hard for them to suck people’s blood.) He’s vowed to stay alive as long as Dracula, in order to protect the world from him, and has been injecting himself with Dracula’s blood (filtered through leeches, don’t ask me why) to gain this immortality.

Unfortunately, having Dracula’s blood running through his veins has resulted in his daughter having a psychic connection to the blood-sucker. And now Dracula believes it is his destiny to hook up with Mary.

Strip away the Dracula plot, and this is essentially just a stupid slasher movie. Characters walk into dark rooms alone, and no one ever behaves rationally or logically. Several things just don’t make any sense at all, like the fact that the only people on the scene at the plane crash are one local news crew — no emergency personnel, no other news teams, nothing.

Lussier has fun making things happen suddenly, forcing us to jump when the film doesn’t really deserve that kind of reaction. There’s very little to be scared by here — except maybe the ludicrous explanation near the end of who Dracula really is. If you’re not frightened by the fact that someone actually thought this was a good idea for the movie, then you’re impervious to horror.

D+ (; R, frequent harsh profanity, abundant blood and violence, brief nudity and some sexuality.)