Director – Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie, The Tomorrow War)
Starring – Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies, Mad Max: Fury Road), Nicolas Cage (Mandy, Ghost Rider), and Awkwafina (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Raya and the Last Dragon)
Release Date – 2023
Rating – 3.5/5
Looking back at my childhood and teenage years I realize that I’ve always been a fan of Nicholas Cage. I loved the movies Con Air, Face Off, Once Bitten, Valley Girl, Raising Arizona, Gone in 60 Seconds among so many more. His career is legendary but what really stands out with his career is the films he’s worked on in the last decade or so. He has found a new wave of fans with his appearance in films like Mandy, Color Out of Space, Willy’s Wonderland, and the Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
I seriously love the new films of his and look forward to any new project he’s involved with. When I heard that he was cast as Dracula in a horror comedy from Universal I was fucking excited. I know many of my friends on social media were quick to dismiss the film and once again claim that Cage will agree to any role. While the latter may be true, I was beside myself with excitement. I couldn’t wait to check it out but would have to wait until a home release due to work and home life. I received the blu release of the film not too long ago and knew I had to watch it. I’ve now watched the film three times since I received it and I fucking love it.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows former lawyer turned servant Renfield (Hoult) who has decided to take his life into his own hands and try for freedom after decades of serving Dracula. They have relocated to New Orleans where Renfield has been attending a support group for people in abusive relationships. He has been feeding the abusive partners to Dracula but along the way has used the group to help him get out on his own. He befriends a female police officer with a grudge for the local organized crime family that responsible for her father’s death. This leads Renfield to embrace leaving Dracula but once Dracula discovers his plans he sides with the crime family to seek revenge on Renfield for turning his back on him. **Spoiler Alert**
I’ve seen a lot of love for Renfield which is a good thing. I hope companies like Universal continue to take risks with horror properties and give fans something a little different than the same stories told over and over again but set in different decades. We could have got another Dracula by the numbers tale like the dozens of films before it. Instead, we get a unique hybrid of comedy and action that dips its toes in horror without becoming a traditional horror film. Honestly, I love it and I would love to see a shared universe with other Universal Monsters but the side characters are in the spotlight. Movies like Frankenstein but we follow Fritz or Wolfman with focus on Bela. It’s a fun concept that leaves us with endless possibilities without simply retelling the same story over and over.
The acting in this is a lot of fun. I’m also a fan of Nicholas Hoult after watching him in Warm Bodies, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jack the Giant Slayer, and as Hank McCoy in several X-Men films. This is nowhere near my favorite performance from him but he was great. His character carries the film and it’s one that has similar traits to other characters he has brought to life in the past. With that being said, he really did commit to the role and the action scenes were a lot of fun and something I wouldn’t usually associate with his name. We also have great performances from Awkwafina and Ben Schwartz. I really liked the characters and how they fit into the film but it’s obvious that they were typecast just like Hoult was. With that being said, I was very disappointed by how little Cage was actually in the film. I know his character was taking the back seat in the story but I was hoping we would have a lot more of Cage as Dracula than what we actually got.
The story for this one is, at it’s heart, an action comedy set against a classic gothic tale. Essentially, the film is a coming of age tale that took over 90 years for Renfield to come to terms with the life he has with Dracula. We then get some organized crime, a lot of comedy, and some horror moments that blends together very well. It does slow down at random times during the middle portion of the film but picks it up during the last leg.
Finally, the film has some blood and gruesome deaths that feature a great deal of practical effects and some visuals. I also enjoyed the various stages of make-up effects on Cage. As the film progresses we see him healing from a near fatal attack from vampire slayers which was cool to see with each passing scene he was in. Overall, Renfield was way more enjoyable than it should have been. It’s goofy but its pulls you in. I highly recommend this one especially if you dig pop corn flicks. Check it out.