1897 England: The schooner Demeter is nearing England. The crew is dead,
and the captain is lashed to the wheel. Dracula has arrived.
2000 London: Matthew Van Helsing [Christopher Plummer], an aging collector of antiques, and his protegee Simon Sheppard [Jonny Lee Miller] are discussing the purchase of a medieval crossbow that Matthew means to add to his personal collection in the Carfax Museum. Among the artifacts on public display, Carfax Museum also houses a heavily-protected vault, and no one knows what it contains. It must be pretty valuable, though, so another employee, Solina [Jennifer Esposito], has arranged to break into the vault and steal whatever is in there. While Matthew sits in his office at the end of the day, Solina and her companions (Marcus, Trick, Nightshade, Dax, Charlie, and J.T) break the computer codes and make their way to the main vault, passing numerous vampire skulls and crosses along the way, only to find...a coffin. No one would think to look for treasure in a coffin, they reason, so this must be it. In searching for a way to open it,Eddie and Dax are impaled by spikes causing an alarm to go off in in Matthew's office. "It's not possible!" Matthew whispers to himself, arms himself with a gun that shoots silver bullets, and goes down to the vault to find that the coffin is gone, the thieves having removed it through a hole they've blasted in the vault's wall. "God help us all!" Matthew exclaims. When Simon comes into work the next day, he finds Matthew preparing to travel. But Matthew won't reveal where he is going, so Simon follows him...all the way to New Orleans.
New Orleans: Mary Heller [Justine Waddell] is awakened by a dream in which a vampire is attacking her. Mary has been having this dream for all her life and finds them troubling enough that she is receiving counseling from her family friend, Father David [Nathan Fillion]. She thinks the dreams have to do with something that happened to her mother before she died, and she thinks Fr David might know what it is. But Fr David isn't talking. On the other hand, Mary's roommate, Lucy Westerman [Colleen Fitzpatrick] thinks that all Mary needs is a real man in her bed. But it's Mardi Gras, and Mary vows not to let it bother her.
Meanwhile, the thieves are transporting the coffin on a cargo plane. Still trying to open it, Nightshade cuts himself. His blood is sucked into the coffin and the lid opens to reveal a body, a bunch of leeches, and a crucifix set with a ruby. As Nightshade searches the coffin for more treasure, Dracula [Gerard Butler] awakens. One by one, the thieves are drained of their blood, and the plane ultimately crashes in a swamp near New Orleans, the pilot lashed to his seat. While newscaster Valerie Sharpe [Jeri Ryan] is covering the crash, Dracula emerges from the swamp and makes her his second vampiress (Solina being first).
Matthew and Simon go to the townhall where the bodies from the plane crash have been taken. By now, they're all vampires. Matthew and Simon manage to destroy some of them, but Solina and Marcus escape. As Matthew and Simon drive away, Matthew finally fills Simon in on what's happening. Stoker's Dracula is real, he says, and Matthew Van Helsing is really Abraham Van Helsing, kept alive by injections of Dracula's blood, which he has been filtering through leeches. Van Helsing has been keeping Dracula's body ever since he bested him in 1897. Unlike other vampires, who can be destroyed by piercing their hearts or cutting off their heads, Dracula cannot die, and Van Helsing intends to remain alive until such time as he can learn the secret to Dracula's origin and find the way to end him. So far, all he has managed to learn is that Dracula hates God and is repulsed by all things Christian. He also reveals that he (Van Helsing) has fathered a daughter, Mary Heller, and that Dracula has come to New Orleans to find her. The two decide to go looking for Mary, Van Helsing to her house and Simon to the Virgin Megastore where she and Lucy both work.
Dracula is apparently following the same plan. He comes to Virgin looking for Mary, but Lucy tells him that she isn't there. Lucy takes Dracula home to wait for Mary. Dracula seduces Lucy and turns her into vampiress #3. When Simon arrives at Virgin, Mary has returned. Simon tries to tell her about her father. As they leave the shop, Simon is attacked by Marcus. "Never ever fuck with an antiques dealer," Simon warns Marcus just before beheading him. Meanwhile, Van Helsing arrives at Mary's house, only to find Dracula waiting for him. "You can't have her!" Van Helsing exclaims, but Dracula refuses to listen. "You stole life from my blood and passed it to another," he hisses. "She's MY Mary now." With that, Dracula kills Van Helsing by tossing him into a mirror.
Mary goes home to find her father dead and the three vampiresses and Dracula awaiting her. She escapes into Simon's arms. Looking for a sacred place to spend the night, they go to a church. While in the parish library, they research Dracula's background, learning only what they already know about his despise of all things Christian--holy water, the cross, the Bible. Only his dislike of silver remains unexplained. Suddenly, Dracula appears. Mary flees into the church cemetery while Simon attempts to divert Dracula with an open Bible. Dracula *is* diverted...right into the cemetery where he explains to Mary, "I have walked the earth for centuries in search of a soul not bitten but born. Everything I am is yours, and all that you are is mine."
Dracula takes Mary to the church roof where he reveals to her the secret of his long existence. He is Judas Iscariot, the disciple who sold out Christ to the Romans for 30 pieces of silver (hence, Dracula's dislike of silver). In atonement, Judas hung himself, but the rope broke and God scourged him with eternal life as a vampire. In a soliloquy in front of a lighted crucifix, Dracula cries out to God, "Now I drink the blood of *your* children. You made the world in your image. Now I make it in mine."
Meanwhile, Simon sees the three vampiresses feasting on Mardi Gras revelers. He stakes Valerie, but the remaining two capture him. Dracula takes Mary to Simon and tells her to feed from him. "I'd like his head," Mary says while unsheathing a sword. Just as she prepares to swing the sword, Lucy cries out, "She's faking!" In the melee that follows, Mary beheads Lucy instead of Simon, Simon beheads Solina, and Dracula winds up hanging by his neck from the lighted crucifix...just as the sun comes up. Dracula bursts into flames. Mary vows to take over her father's job of keeping Dracula's ashes, lest Dracula find a way to return to life. [Original Synopsis by bj_kuehl.]