Drag, filth and horror have all been showcased so far in the new season of The Boulet Brothers’ ‘Dragula. This week’s episode is devoted to platforming glamour. Centred on a ghost ship theme, this episode challenges the competitors to evoke the supernatural mysteries of the sea in their looks and performances.
This episode begins with a simple yet effective opening scene. It’s much darker than many of the others have been, with the ocean calling out to a lone wanderer on the beach, begging to drown him. The flickering film effect and the ghostly forms of The Boulet Brothers rising from the waves create a more subtle, but no less gripping, sense of horror.
From the first moments in the boudoir, tensions are high. Last week, all four members of the losing team were up for elimination after spending almost the entire episode bickering. It feels like chaos is clawing at the edges of a cage, ready to tear through the entire competition, if only one or two of the artists let the pressure get to them.
It’s exciting to see some real feelings emerge as relationships between the queens start to fracture. Over the course of the next few challenges, it will be very interesting to see whether this explosive response to the pressure will throw certain performers off their game… Or if it will be the motivation they need to snatch the Dragula crown.
Amongst the drama, there are a handful of competitors who are clearly just trying to keep their heads down and get on with the competition – and maybe even lighten the mood wherever they can. Dahli and Hoso stand out as breaths of fresh air, easing the pressure of the brewing storm.
The challenge this week is to create a glamorous look prompted by the idea of a luxury cruise liner, lost at sea and now haunted by the souls who died aboard. They also have to perform a lip sync to The Boulet Brothers’ new song, Wicked Love.
First, the competitors are given a special Fright Feat. The Boulet Brothers have hidden a key somewhere in the boudoir. Whoever finds it will be given the power to either save themselves from elimination or to nominate someone else.
With tension as high as it is right now, this was an excellent week to introduce this mechanic. No matter who found it, the results were always going to be delicious. Clear schisms between some performers have opened up. These tensions will only be exacerbated by this powerful key.
Speculation about how that key will be used and how different competitors are likely to play the game from this point forward makes for a very rich episode. You can see some of them getting inside their heads and perhaps focusing more on the drama than the competition.
As anyone who has been paying attention will have come to expect, the queens each take their own unique approach to their looks for this challenge. For a while, in the boudoir, you would be forgiven for anticipating a lot of similar ideas to show up for the floor show. The reams of blue fabric on near enough every worktop certainly set up some expectations. However, this is Dragula, and it is unwise to assume anything.
The quality of the looks this episode is astounding. As expected, there were a lot of visuals based on the idea of glamorous, wealthy passengers who died in their gowns and jewels, only to become encrusted with barnacles after their watery demise. In addition to this, there were some very original approaches to the task. Supernatural water spirits, the ship’s captain and even the boat itself were worked into different ideas.
The artists that took risks were the ones that stood out the most. Some of those risks paid off better than others when it came down to the judges’ comments.
The lip sync was gorgeous. There were a couple of cheeky performers using their microphones to hide words they didn’t quite know well enough. Maybe in the early episodes, this could have been seen as a clever use of props to pull off the façade of a better act, but this far into the season it’s not impressing the judges.
While still consistently fair, the critiques are now drilling down into the tiniest, finest details. The competition is far too tight for that not to be the case. A single flubbed word or inch of patchy make-up could be what sends an act home now, and the queens know it. Even the most diplomatic among them are starting to crack and let out their frustrations. Those who have been loud and dramatic so far are now feeding off it. The eruptions in the cauldron this week have touched some nerves. However, as those exposed sensitivities feed into the next stages, this season promises an intoxicating competition.