Count Dracula is one of the Universal Monsters characters from the 1930s. He was played brilliantly by Bela Lugosi. This character has been played by a lot of actors since this incarnation by Lugosi. Renfield on the other hand hasn’t gotten the attention in film and television that Dracula has gotten. The most iconic portrayal of this character was by Dwight Frye in the Original Dracula that Lugosi was in. Now this character gets justice in a film titled after him. And Nicholas Hoult absolutely owns this role.
As the film picks up Hoults Renfield is going to a meeting of people who have been treated badly by a significant other such as husband, wife, boss, or in his case an aide to the Prince of Darkness otherwise known as Count Dracula (Nic Cage) He attends to his every whim including finding prey so he can feed. At some point from doing his bidding for centuries, Renfield finally gets sick of doing his master’s bidding and branches out on his own to form a life for himself. Unfortunately for him, Dracula isn’t happy about this decision. This causes a rift in their relationship.
Besides Hoult and Cage, this horror comedy has a few other actors that are doing some great work. Awkwafina, a popular comedian and actress in her own right, plays a beat cop in New Orleans. She has a beef with a local crime lord (Shoreh Aghdashloo) and her son Teddy Lobo (Ben Schwartz) who is known as a comedian and voice-over actor in the Sonic the Hedgehog films. These supporting actors bring more comedic elements to a movie that is already very funny. The entire cast is hilarious in their various roles.
This film plays on a lot of horror tropes involving the character of Dracula and his henchmen. Nic Cage is channeling the corpse of Bela Lugosi. He is a little over the top but it’s perfect the way he has become this iconic character. The facial tics, hand gestures, and eye movements all help Cage bring this iconic horror character to life. Along with the great makeup and hairstyling team, this character was brought to life in various stages with pristine perfection. Hoult on the other hand is playing the title character and is the straight man to Cage’s comedic portrayal of this classic horror character. You as a viewer feel empathy for what Hoult’s character is going through at the hands of his evil master. They are both pretty amazing in their given roles.
With a film about vampires must also come a lot of blood and gore. Renfield has blood and gore in spades. There are at least three or four bloody action sequences whether it be Cages Dracula killing innocents or Hoult and Awkwafina moving through henchmen of the gang leaders. A lot of people are beheaded and lose their limbs along with buckets of blood. This is one of the goriest films I’ve ever seen. Chris McKay the director, known for some animated films, spares no expense in the blood category. It flows like a waterfall throughout the movie.
With this being a genre film it has to follow certain prerequisites. The rules of Dracula are followed pretty well and expanded upon involving the Renfield character. These add to some pretty raunchy moments that would make most people turn away. This was also part of what made the movie so funny. The more guts and blood were spilled at the hands of these two main characters the funnier things were. There were also some good one-liners from both Cage and Hoult. Add in Awkwafina and Schwartz and this one is probably the funniest film I’ve seen all year. It was literally a gut-buster, it was that funny. People were laughing non-stop at my screening of the movie. That’s a good sign.
Rrnfield takes a popular Universal Monster and puts a great modern twist on it. Cage and Hoult, as the title character, are both great in their respective roles. The horror tropes involving these two main characters were amazing. The supporting cast including Awkwafina, and Schwartz was also hilarious. The blood and gore throughout the movie were, at times, cringeworthy in a good way. All the beheadings and use of bloody limbs was pretty impressive. McKay brought this tried and true UP with the help of Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead, to life brilliantly. This was everything I could have wanted in a movie about these characters. This is how you put a twist on the classic Universal Monsters character. I loved every minute of this film.
Dan Skip Allen