The Church of Castlevania

Disclaimer: Mild spoilers for Castlevania, Season 1. Also, discussion of gore and ancient church politics.

Shown: the Castle of Dracula. Not shown: all the blood the series shed. (photo courtesy of Netflix.)

[Sigh.] I’ve been dodging this review for a while now.

So, a couple weekends back, I sat down to watch Netflix’s Castlevania series, an adaptation of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. (Could’ve fooled me; I haven’t played any of the games.)

It’s not that long, for starters. Only four episodes, each under a half an hour long. Watching the entire series takes less time than watching a movie.

As far as content goes, it’s probably the most graphic (read: gory and bloody) media I’ve watched. To give perspective, the “tamest” of the gory actions is the sky literally raining blood.

Beyond that, it’s well written. The characters, for what little screentime they get, are fairly well developed, with clear goals and motivations.

But that isn’t why I’ve been dodging it. I’ve been dodging it because the show paints the church as the bad guys.

I don’t like giving in-depth plot synopses, but here’s the set-up (to skip it, jump to the TL;DR): it’s the mid-late 1400’s, and a wandering human woman comes upon Dracula’s castle. Dracula—being an immortal vampire—is thousands of years ahead of the rest of the world, with his castle decked out with electric lights. Dracula takes the woman in to teach her his science, and then he later marries her.

Of course, after time, the woman goes back out into the world to share her science and help humanity. But the church steps in and burns her at the stake for witchcraft. This, of course, turns Dracula against humanity, and he gives the church a year to leave.

A year passes, and the church is still there, having mistaken Dracula for Satan, and believing that they are protected by God. Of course, to their surprise, Dracula calls forth an army of demons that starts terrorizing the entire countryside.

And the church in Castlevania still doesn’t get it, blaming the gypsy-like “Speakers” for the demon attacks because some of them use magic. (In actuality, only a few do.) They even blame the family of the main character—the Belmonts—for the attacks and excommunicate them from the church, even when they’re the most qualified for stopping Dracula.

TL;DR, the church is shown as moronic, arrogant, and cruel, blaming everyone else rather than themselves.

It probably bugs me more than it should. The series is set in the 1400’s, when the global church was at its least Biblical and most corrupt. When they would have burned someone at the stake for witchcraft.

Still, I can’t help but think that the writers’ choice of direction in storytelling shows how they think the church could turn out. So judgmental that it becomes self-destructive.

I won’t try to argue that this is a Christian show. If anything, it’s pretty anti-Christian—at least, anti-ancient-Christian. But I will say that we can all learn the same lesson: don’t be like the church in Castlevania. That church carries knives and beats up people in the streets.

In closing, I can’t decide if I like this show or not. I keep hopping between liking the show and hating it, with no in-between. On the one hand, I don’t like how they portray the church, but the last episode changed that dynamic slightly. And I didn’t like how graphic it was, but again, the last episode dialed it back a bit. I have a feeling they won’t change the portrayal of the church or the gore in future episodes, but it would be nice if they did.

Accordingly, I present the most self-contradictory rank that I’ve given a series:

4/10 ~ I can’t wait for Season 2.


And that concludes my review. I’m off to watch something that won’t potentially make me hate the church. Until then, stay safe, eat well, and don’t. Play. With. Whips. This show taught me that they are not safe. [Shudders.]

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