Nicolas Cage plays Dracula. Full stop. That’s my entire review.
Just kidding. Director Chris McKay, who also gave us “The Lego Batman Movie” and more recently “The Tomorrow War,” helms a bloody horror comedy about the familiar or slave-like assistant to the big bad Dracula. Vampire movies can be a real hit or miss, so Ryan and I wore our garlicky turtlenecks to the theater to find out if this movie sucks blood or just sucks.
Nic Cage has stated in interviews that Dracula is among his three most sought-after roles and, at this stage in his career, the role that he was born to play. In fact, one minor criticism I have of the film is that I could have used a LOT more Drac! He’s in it a fair amount, not being the title character and all, but I could have used a hell of a lot more. As it stands, every scene that Cage’s Dracula is in oozes with the evil charm that the character is famous for. Nicholas Holt, the other Nick in the movie, plays our… hero? Renfield. Renfield is in a support group for people in toxic codependent relationships. This is the place that he uses to find victims for his boss, but lately, he’s been having second thoughts and starts to realize that he too is in a toxic relationship. Comedy ensues.
Holt does a fine job in this horror comedy alongside the consistently entertaining Awkwafina, who plays a frustrated cop out for justice in a corrupt city of New Orleans.
The story comes from Robert Kirkman, who along with Cage should really get people excited. Kirkman, of course, created “The Walking Dead,” and the tone that he sets is a bloody, gory mix of comedy and horror. The laughs land alongside stylized vampire action that spews buckets of blood in a nearly cartoonish way, but damn was it some eye candy. This is not a gritty, realistic vampire tale, no. This is full-on B-movie on steroids. Dracula is the classic version, more Bela Lugosi than Gary Oldman, and it works. The backdrop of New Orleans and its crime syndicate as the antagonists was just plausible enough to fit into my suspension of disbelief. I had fun with where this plot took me, and there were some rather unpredictable beats.
Speaking of the criminal, Ben Schwartz plays a character, Teddy Lobo, who is heir to the underworld throne. He gets a decent arc in the story, and Schwartz plays it so over the top that there were a few scenes that I thought he even stole from Dracula.
If you’re into buckets of CG blood, stylized action, classic vampire tone, with a healthy heaping of laughs on top, then you’ll not want to miss “Renfield.” I would definitely be up for a resurrection in a sequel!
Hear our full discussion on episode 605