NIGHT OF THE HUNTER

Syfy’s Van Hels­ing will be un­like any other en­try in the vam­pire di­aries…

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red Alert -

The gen­der­flipped Van Hels­ing heads up our TV pre­view.

Such is the leg­end of Abra­ham Van Hels­ing that it’s nat­u­ral to as­sume he’s the one who slayed the Prince of Dark­ness in Bram Stoker’s Drac­ula, not Jonathan Harker and Quincey Mor­ris. His rep­u­ta­tion as an ex­e­cu­tioner of the un­dead has been coloured by nu­mer­ous me­dia in­ter­pre­ta­tions that have some­what wa­tered down his evoca­tive name. That looks set to change, though, with Syfy’s Van Hels­ing, which in­tro­duces a de­scen­dant of the Dutch doc­tor (played by True Blood’s Kelly Over­ton) to a vam­pire-plagued world far re­moved from the Count’s me­dieval Carpathian hideaway.

“The con­tem­po­rary post-apoc­a­lyp­tic set­ting – and the in­tro­duc­tion of Vanessa Hels­ing as a hu­man-vam­pire hy­brid who is ca­pa­ble of turn­ing vam­pires back to hu­mans – make Van Hels­ing very dif­fer­ent from any of the pre­vi­ous ver­sions peo­ple have seen,” says writer and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Si­mon Barry.

The Con­tin­uum cre­ator signed on to Van Hels­ing to col­lab­o­rate with showrun­ner Neil LaBute (In The Com­pany Of Men). Barry be­lieves that LaBute will re­store re­spectabil­ity to a sub­genre that has too of­ten been re­duced to melo­drama in re­cent years. “I knew he would bring a fresh and un­ex­pected take to this ma­te­rial,” he says. “I also knew that with Neil’s guid­ance, we could dig into the char­ac­ters in a way that would el­e­vate it to be more than what’s ex­pected by the au­di­ence.”

Fore­most among those char­ac­ters is what Barry de­scribes as a “tough-minded and re­source­ful” hero­ine. “Vanessa Hels­ing has emerged from a three-year coma to find a bro­ken, post-apoc­a­lyp­tic world, ruled by vam­pires,” he ex­plains. “Her driv­ing goal is to lo­cate her daugh­ter Dy­lan, but due to her spe­cial abil­i­ties to turn vam­pires back into hu­mans, she has be­come the tar­get for both vam­pires and the hu­man re­sis­tance ded­i­cated to fight­ing them.”

This makes Vanessa Hels­ing sound more like Rick Grimes than the campy cross­bow-wield­ing hero of the 2006 Hugh Jack­man movie. If so, Syfy’s new series might bring his myth back down to earth. “This show is a straight-up drama and em­braces el­e­ments of hor­ror and vi­o­lence,” Barry con­firms. “There is the oc­ca­sional comedic beat, but the tone and stakes of this world are real.”

Van Hels­ing pre­mieres on Syfy in the US later this year.

Kelly Over­ton is the gun-tot­ing scourge of mod­ern vam­pires.

Not a bunch of an­gry, flame-wield­ing Euro­pean vil­lagers…

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