Van Helsing is the sort of film you have to be in the mood for to enjoy. It's supremely brainless, cringingly corny and a great popcorn flick. Horror and comedy have always worked well together, but we're not sure the director meant for this movie to be quite so hilarious. Not that it matters, though.
A hodge-podge of monster movies past, Van Helsing doesn't horrify as much as it startles. Here it relies on good old-fashioned techniques like sudden loud sounds, evil cackles and oozing reptilian grotesqueness, to shake and repel you. And it's not lacking in the booty department either.
Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) is a legendary hero, the killer of invincible monsters, from werewolves to Dr. Jekyll's beefy doppelganger. He also takes care of all household pests from the zombie in your attic, to the randy bloodsuckers in your cellar. Some pests however are immune to death, much like your common Hyderabadi mosquito.
For years, Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) has terrorized a badly lit hamlet in Transylvania and nobody's had any luck resisting his promises of eternal life and patchy make-up. It isn't for want to trying though; the ancient family of Valerious has lost many children to the somewhat fatalist cause of nailing the Count. Now the clan is down to its last two members and the stakes (haha) are rising.
To help Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale in an increasingly clingy costume) and her werewolf brother, Van Helsing calls on Transylvania with his bumbling sidekick in attendance. The sidekick (David Wenham) is a friar, with a full-blown British accent and that country's genius for understatement. So that's your bit of comedy, apart from the sexually charged scenes between Anna and Helsing, which were originally written for but rejected by the folks at Harlequin.
Also in the fight against the screeching vampires is Frankenstein's monster (Shuler Hensley), with his endearingly woe-ridden patchwork face. All this poor creature wants to do is be left alone, but the minute he settles down in a cozy ruin, somebody drags him off to be electrocuted out of his oversized skull. And all because Dracula and his shrill brides need help hatching their undead babies. It's bad enough to be considered as some sort of lightning rod for life, but to be routinely ridiculed and have bits of one's face accidentally torn off can really get on one's undead nerves.
In between visits from Anna's werewolf brother, battles with swarms of vampire babies and their ultrasonic moms, and fight scenes of cliff-hanging suspense, the Kill Dracula team figure out a way to kill the fanged freak. It's messy, it's long-drawn, and it involves some nudity and bad language, but since neither character is in human form, we suppose this is all right.
As we said earlier, Van Helsing is a full time-pass, happily vacuous movie with nothing new to say, but plenty of steam to say it with. For those times when your brain craves complete inactivity.