Home » Renfield

Renfield is yet another attempt by Universal Pictures to rejuvenate their classic monsters. After the disastrous The Mummy of 2017 sank any hopes that Universal had for an interconnected shared universe, they opted for standalone movies about Universal Monsters begging for dramatic reimaginings. The first among them was the critically acclaimed and a box office hit “The Invisible Man” featuring Elizabeth Moss as its lead actress and now Renfield, shifting focus on one Dracula’s supporting characters into a action-comedy film with mixed results.

It is directed by Chris McKay, whose previous works include The Lego Batman Movie and The Tomorrow War. Nicholas Hoult leads the cast in the title role while Nicolas Cage takes up the mantle of Dracula in what passes for inspired stunt casting these days. Although it is based on strong idea, this movie presents a talented support cast like Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Adrian Martinez and Brandon Scott Jones that do their best to recreate less American Werewolf in London-type film but more as if it were a comic version of Underworld series.

Despite being pitched as a reimagining of Dracula, Renfield (2022) is actually a loose sequel to Universal Pictures’ original Dracula from 1931 with scenes from that iconic movie featuring performances by Nicholas Cage and Nicholas Hoult standing in for Bela Lugosi and Dwight Frye respectively. The story starts off in modern day New Orleans where Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) who has been together with his vampire master/Dracula since 100 years back decides he’s had enough.

Finally standing up against Dracula when he falls head over heels for traffic cop Rebecca Quincy (Awkwafina), who wants to bring down the gang that killed her police chief father; this occurs when Quincy’s words intersect those of Renfield before turning into an alliance between Dracula himself and Quincy’s enemies just so they can take vengeance on Renfield who abandoned him.

It may seem strange, but this is Universal’s second attempt at launching a Dracula movie in the past decade. The first one was 2014’s Dracula Untold with Luke Evans, which was meant as a kickoff to a shared universe but was immediately forgotten and Universal changed gears to their failed Dark Universe that began with The Mummy.

Curiously enough, Dracula Untold ended its story with a scene after credits of Dracula in modern times. While nothing ever came out of it, the idea of present-day Dracula must have continued to linger around long enough for Universal Pictures to pick it up and develop into Renfield.

Dracula Untold attempted to turn the character into a traditional superhero origin story similar to Batman Begins, while Renfield seeks inspiration from self-aware action comedies like later MCU or Fast and Furious movies. Another film titled The Last Voyage of Demeter is also lined up by Universal Pictures for 2023 featuring another portrayal of Count Drecula.

The film’s script is written by Rick and Morty scribe Ryan Ridley with a story idea by the creator of The Walking Dead Robert Kirkman. Most of the problems that the movie has can be traced to the script, specifically the addition of a subplot about mob which is not found in the promotion of this film and instead centers on Renfield/Dracula relationship. It seems like the entire mob storyline exists for the sole reason that it adds action scenes to it. Even though how he gets there is questionable, but when it comes to action, McKay has nailed it. Mckay is having fun showing just how powerful vampire violence can be realized completely . The buckets of blood and comically over-the-top gory mutilations are reminiscent of Hammer Horror films with their vibrant blood.

Renfield has an interesting pitch; although one would argue that his ideas somewhat take him away from his original point. A toxic relationship where one person in this dynamic literally feeds off others examines Dracula and Renfield through what lens? This makes for a compelling as well as smart rewriting of the text to fit into modern times. But this aspect fights continuously against the mob subplot, which starts to become overwhelming.

The film does not have tonal inconsistencies though. From its very beginning up until its end, this movie fully embraced being a genre piece so everyone already knows what they are going into when watching it. However, most comedy falls flat in this film mainly due to bad jokes. That’s partly because vampire-in-a-modern-setting jokes are done better in other movies (and TV shows) such as What We Do In The Shadows.

On some occasions instead of having jokes at all, we find characters simply calling out how ridiculous a certain scene might be in order to seem funny Maybe lucky enough is having talented comedians like Awkwafina (playing her part as an heir) and Ben Schwartz delivering lines like these in ways that should seem funny, but really aren’t.

Despite the problems with the script, Nicolas Cage is perfect as Dracula. His Renfield role was secured in the wake of Cage’s Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent and serves as another late-career revival for him onscreen. This portrayal by cage has all of Lugosi’s original over-the-topness intact, but its comedy derives from the contrast between it and a naturalistic performance style within an urban American setting. However, Cage’s Dracula happens to be both a comic and scary character. Cage could have easily used this same performance that he gave as Dracula in a more traditional horror movie and it would’ve been just fine.

The rest of the cast does well, however, Nicholas Hoult despite his best efforts ends up losing his film to Dracula played by Nic Cage. Also Awkwafina continues to demonstrate her versatility as an actress building up one of the strongest resumes among young actors today. It is important to mention Shohreh Aghdashloo as well whose mere presence provides depth to what is otherwise a shallow villain on paper.

As a result of The Mummy, Universal Pictures realized that they had to embrace bold creative pitches for reimagining their iconic movie monsters. In effect, the original versions that loom large over popular culture will always remain true; why not try something new? That sometimes means transplanting them into new genres. Yet Renfield is an interesting take on the material even if it fails to fully realize its potential.

However, the studio is to be commended for affording the filmmakers this unconventional adaptation of Dracula. In an age where superhero properties and books turned film franchises are reluctant to tamper with the material in fear of alienating their original audience, Universal’s lack of preciousness about their iconic monsters is a breath of fresh air. This just shows how versatile these ancient creatures can be – Universal Monsters are still alive so long as it’s injected with some new blood.

Watch free movies on Fmovies

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top