June 29, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

It could have been a slick, spooky romp: A team of high-tech thieves (including Esposito and Omar Epps) steal Dracula’s coffin from its London safe house, hop a getaway plane, and crash outside New Orleans — where the dapper undead fellow hunts down his soul mate (Justine Waddell). Unfortunately, what follows is a bloody clot of cliches: Eyes turn red; the smoke machine hits overdrive; and Dracula (Gerard Butler) walks around a lot, smiling bemusedly at his human prey. And despite the gory effects and a cast of pretty young things, it’s Christopher Plummer, as the legendary vampire hunter Van Helsing, who alone holds the screen. Wes Craven may be presenting, but this is no Scream.

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