Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Warning: Mild spoilers ahead
I didn’t think it would be possible to go darker with Netflix’s adaptation of the popular video game franchise Castlevania, but that’s exactly what we got here with the aptly titled Nocturne.
The events here take place three centuries after the first Castlevania series. It is 1792 and a ten-year old Richter Belmont (Edward Bluemel) witnesses the brutal death of his mother at the hands of a powerful Aztec vampire named Orlox (Zahn McClarnon), the trauma of this event robbing him of his ability to perform magic. Years later Richter is now living in France with his “adoptive” family consisting of gifted Speaker magician Tera (Nastassja Kinski) and her daughter Maria (Pixie Davies) who’s also magically gifted and fighting for the freedom and rights of the people against the nobles who are now in league with the vampires.
When the Abbot (Richard Dormer) deems the revolution a threat to the Church, he takes a dark path in the name of God and allies himself with the most powerful of all vampires, Erzsebeth Bathory. She believes herself to be the goddess Sekmeth and promises to bring permanent darkness to the world, unleashing a vampire apocalypse in the process. The question is, will Richter Belmont be able to overcome his own fears and find the power within himself to lead his allies to victory against such staggering odds?
Anime and video game fans have to be feeling like winners themselves as the past few years have seen a massive rise in the quality of adaptations coming to the big and small screen alike. Castlevania was lauded by many as a fantastic and energetic wild ride that delivered on its promises, and it seems like Nocturne is keeping that positive energy flowing in the right direction. The art style and animation, while reminiscent of the first series, is a bit more polished here lending to some fantastic action sequences (although I haven’t seen anything yet to match the ferocity of Castlevania’s season finale where the trio of Alucard, Trevor and Sypha fought Dracula himself). And the look of each character is unique enough that none gets lost in the background.
An epic story also needs an epic soundtrack — something the games are also known for — and with the team up of Trevor Morris and Trey Toy (Vikings, The Borgias, The Tudors and many more) fans won’t be left disappointed. The voice cast is a who’s-who of talent and the characters here are just as (if not more) complex that the ones of the previous series. I love it when my heroes are flawed, and my villains’ motives aren’t mundane making it so much easier to fully invest into their fantastical world. A great example of this is the way Richter’s trauma of losing his mother is tied to his ability (or in this case, inability) to perform magic. Characters like Annette (Thuso Mbedu) and Edouard (Sydney James Harcourt) meld the very real horrors of slavery and the “vampirism” of colonisers in ways that are equally respectful and smart.
And then there’s Orlox. What’s are his true motives? Is he truly evil or are we dealing with a character who walks a dark path in the name of good? Of all the well-written characters here Orlox is the one I find most intriguing, and I can’t wait to see how they handle the final showdown between him and Richter.
Castlevania: Nocturne ends with a fantastic reveal and the type of cliffhanger that’s rare in this day and age — the kind that leaves you on the edge of your seat, chomping at the bit to know what comes next. With writing this sharp and characters that have real bite to them (I’ll stop with the puns now) one can’t help but look forward to what comes next. And with a deep well of stories still available to them from the video game franchise it’s based on I can’t wait to see what the Belmont clan whips up (okay THAT’S the last one!) for us in the future.
Sommer’s Score: 8 out of 10
Have you checked out Castlevania: Nocturne Season 1? How would you rate it? And you can sink your teeth into more animated dark fantasy below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge-Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes. Double Tap Baby! Read More