1 of 5 | "Castlevania: Nocturne" premieres Thursday. Photo courtesy of Netflix
NEW YORK, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- The filmmakers behind the new Castlevania spin-off Nocturne say they want the show to visually, tonally and thematically feel like the original 15th-century-set, horror-anime series -- while moving the mythology forward by following new heroes and villains.
Set in rural 1792 France, the Netflix series premieres Thursday.
It follows Richter Belmont (Edward Bluemel), the last descendant of a legendary family of vampire hunters, as he teams up with mother-daughter revolutionaries Tera (Nastassja Kinski) and Maria (Pixie Davies); Annette, a sorceress from the Caribbean; and opera singer Edouard (Sydney James Harcourt) to battle the blood-sucking aristocracy, which has forged an alliance with a vampire messiah (Franka Potente) determined to enslave humanity.
"Jumping 300 years into the future allowed us to explore a lot of interesting things," co-showrunner Kevin Kolde told UPI in a recent phone interview.
"We're looking at the world, how it had changed in 300 years and the role that the church and vampires and humans might play in that," he said. "We're keeping the core elements that we introduced, but realistically exploring how those things would have evolved over time."
Supernatural aspects notwithstanding, the class issues, battles and alliances from this period of American and French history are pretty accurately depicted in the show, according to Kolde.
"It opened up so many fun doors for us to walk through and play with," he said.
"It's history, but with monsters," co-director Sam Deats said with a laugh, adding that he thinks the connection between wealth and vampirism "probably resonates pretty strongly" with 2023 audience members, who resent that in real life there are few people who get very rich at the expense of those less fortunate.
Viewers first meet Richter on the night the vampire, Olrox (Zahn McClarnon), kills the young boy's mother, Julia (Sophie Skelton), in the American colonies.
The action then fast-forwards several years to Richter as a young adult in France.
"We see him grow up quite a bit over the season," Deats said. "He has to figure himself out. It's a bit more of a coming-of-age story for him than it was for [protagonist Trevor] in the previous show."
Adam Deats, who shares directing duties with his brother, said video game Castlevania: Rondo of Blood was rich source material for the show.
However, while it takes place in the same year and region, the game does not incorporate the French Revolution into its story line, while the streaming series leans into that.
"Richter, Tera and Maria are all pretty similar. They will be familiar, I should say," Adam Deats said.
Sam Deats added: "Obviously, it's an adaptation and some things have changed, but many of the elements, many of the 'bullet points' are still present, maybe in a slightly shifted state, but they are still the jumping-off point for a lot of the story beats."
Kolde credited lead writer and co-showrunner Clive Bradley for masterfully blending drama, action, horror and comedy for the latest chapter of the Castlevania franchise.
"They cracked these stories and characters. A lot of it harkens back to the tone of the original series, but they have completely made it their own. Humor was always a part of it," Kolde said.
"Hopefully, people will find it smart, they will find it horrific, they will find it funny and they will have their heartstrings tugged at," he added. "All that credit goes to the writers."
Sam Deats emphasized this blurring of tonal lines is tricky to do.
"We ride the line between being schlocky and hokey on occasion, but also taking ourselves deadly serious when it matters in a universe that is meant to be grounded dialogue-wise, story-wise, but still has vampires, magic and monsters in it," Sam Deats said.
The show wouldn't be nearly as effective or entertaining without the top-notch voice ensemble, Kolde said.
"They bring the characters to life with their performances," he added. "They make the characters real."