The Boulet Brothers prove that reality TV can rely on artistry rather than drama for its success, crafting a new perspective through The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Resurrection’s unique, experimental style.
The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula is known for mixing reality and fiction, featuring filmic opening scenes drawing on a variety of horror references and a delightful death scene for each ‘exterminated’ contestant. This unusual blend is part of what makes Dragula so exciting, as well as the dynamic performances and freedom of self-expression. In halloween special The Boulet Brothers Dragula: Resurrection, The Boulets push the experimental format further, creating a two-hour film-part horror movie, part documentary and part reality competition.
Dragula: Resurrection sees The Boulets and their small crew travel to each of the performer’s hometowns and we are made privy to their work-processes and personal lives. One of the most fascinating elements of the special is watching the contestants work in their own spaces; watching Victoria Elizabeth Black create whole sets for her performances in her workshop and Loris demonstrating her latex expertise is particularly enjoyable.
The Dragula: Resurrection opening scene will not disappoint fans, set in a lavish, yet a little decrepit, gothic mansion, as we watch Dracmorda Boulet plot the returning contestants’ torture and Swanthula Boulet kill a man for fun. It is depraved and decadent, and everything you want from a Dragula special.
Due to Covid, the contestants can’t assemble together in the usual fashion, but necessity is the mother of invention, and these new restrictions push Dragula towards an innovative new format. Even watching the display of contestants pop up on screen rather than face-to-face only adds to The Boulet’s evil mastermind personas. They reveal that the challenge is to deliver three floorshows from one legacy challenge of each season: Witch (S1), Ghost (S2) and Vampire (S3), vying for $20,000 and the chance to compete on Season Four.
Dragula: Resurrection offers a unique perspective for a reality TV competition, as it relies on the artistry of the contestants and shines a light on their raw personal stories, rather than cultivating drama. That is not to say there isn’t any shade thrown. Loris’ repeated declaration that she is ‘THAT bitch‘ followed by a cut to Kendra Onixxx’s shutdown ‘Loris can never be THAT bitch, and will never be THAT bitch‘, makes for very entertaining watching.
However, some of the most engaging moments occur when Kendra talks candidly about her experience being badly burnt whilst performing with fire, before going on to face her fear head-on in true Dragula style. Priscilla Chambers opens up about her personal journey transitioning after her time on the show, but also reminds us of the importance of diverse media representation and that ‘without trans performers, drag wouldn’t exist.’ Saint uses her platform to talk about Black Lives Matter and her moving experience of speaking at a recent protest, as well as encouraging drag performers of colour to pursue any style of drag they wish.
Whilst the personal stories are presented in a simple and honest way, the Floor Shows elevate drag on-screen to an extraordinary level, creating new fantasy realms with full sets and real-life haunted locations. First up is the witch challenge and my favourites in this category are the two who opt for a more classic look: Loris and Victoria. Loris’ latex look is so sleek and glamorous, and she succeeds in creating an instantly recognisable image, having received criticism for her looks being too removed from themes on her season. Victoria Elizabeth Black creates green finger extensions and a witchy nose, and also shows growth from the critiques on her season with her compelling performance.
In the Ghost challenge, Saint takes the classic Halloween image of a sheet ghost and makes it terrifying, leaving me with an image that will haunt my nightmares. But it is Priscilla’s tribute to trans sex workers, particularly black trans sex workers, that takes it for me.
The vampire challenge and lip-sync to Kim Petras‘ ‘In The Next Life’ is where we see the performers thrive the most. My favourites are DAHLI and Saint, who attack the challenge with completely opposite aesthetics. For Saint, the vampire challenge holds particular significance, as she was sent home on this challenge in Season Three. Here we have a full redemption moment; the look is a refreshing red-and-white sixties vintage vampire with a psychedelic twist, as she takes us on a bloody acid trip in her performance.
DAHLI’s vampire has a much more aggressive energy, and the look is menacing and earthy, but with DAHLI’s signature surrealist twist in the makeup. It conjures up apocalyptic images of the Wasteland Weekend challenge from Season 2.
Despite the unconventional format, Dragula: Resurrection sees contestants at their most confident, second time in front of the camera and thriving in their own spaces. You can feel that everyone working on the show is dedicated to bringing out the best of the performers.
The ending is unexpectedly moving. The Boulets leave behind the wonderfully twisted and trashy extermination deaths, instead giving us an emotional montage set to Orville Peck’s ‘Dead of Night’, as we watch each performer die until only one remains.
Saint deservedly takes the win, clearly demonstrating some of the most growth and delivering some of the best Floor Shows. I am very excited to see the more self-assured Saint return to compete! In a post-credits scene, DAHLI wakes up too…does this hint at another Resurrection-style competition? I hope so!
The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Resurrection is available to stream now exclusively on Shudder.