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