Review: Van Helsing 1×1 (US: Syfy)

Van horrible

In the US: Fridays, 10/9c, Syfy

Syfy’s new mantra may be ‘fewer, bigger, better’, a tactic that’s already given us the likes of The Magicians and Childhood’s End, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to stop being the home to z-grade, made-in-Canada schlock such as Killjoys, Hunters and Dark Matter. 

In particular, taking a leaf out of frequent contributor the Asylum’s playbook, Syfy does love to develop non-copyright infinging shows that are still rather similar to other successful shows, but which are generally rather cheap and terrible, the most successful of these being Z Nation.

Without a huge amount of thought, Syfy now gives us Van Helsing – not to be confused with the rather similarly plotted Wynonna Earp or the identically named movie Van Helsing – in which the daughter of noted vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing wakes up in 2019 and discovers that the western half of the US has been over-run with vampires thanks to a volcanic eruption this year. Hmm, sounds a bit like the quite popular The Strain, doesn’t it? What a coincidence.

Notably, Miss Van Helsing now appears to have super powers and do martial arts and stuff. Could she be the saviour prophesied, who’ll save humanity from the Feeders? You’ll be asking if she’s the Chosen One next.

The keenest and most astute of you will probably guess that Van Helsing bares no resemblance whatsoever to Bram Stoker’s Dracula or the nice little Dutch scientist Van Helsing who appears in it. Unlike Stoker’s vampires, the vampires of this piece can’t roam in daylight without burning up and have a lot more in common with Walking Dead zombies than any vampires you might have come across in your media travels. 

Instead, the show is an ultra-low budget, “seven fighty, diverse people in rooms” kind of show in which people shout the plot at each other in between moaning about the collapse of civilisation and their dead loved ones before shooting one another. Fight scenes are simultaneously reasonable yet dreadful, with everything looking just fine and well choreographed until something terribly embarrassing takes place that makes you think they just didn’t know what to do next – either that or they couldn’t afford more than one piece of paper per fight to map out the moves on.

Everything about Van Helsing is derivative. Literally the only good thing about it is the surprisingly good soundtrack. Watching it is painful and, worst of all, hugely boring. It even makes me yearn for the comparatively high quality, absolutely low quality Wynonna Earp