‘Renfield’ review: Nicholas Hoult emerges from the shadow of Nicolas Cage’s Dracula in need in a fun and bloody new classic

There have been so many variations and film versions of the Bram Stoker classic. dracula, from 1926 Nosferatu to 1931 by Tod Browning dracula from Francis Coppola’s beloved version with Gary Oldman to comic satires like love at first bite with George Hamilton taking over the role. Now in UniversalThe latest effort to rescue your horror classics and make them new again, we have the perfect cast. Nicolas Cage like the Prince of Darkness. Even he has made a branch before, in 1988 Vampire kiss. This time, however, the film does not focus on Dracula himself, but on his beleaguered servant, henchman, whatever you want to call him, Renfieldforks other Nicholas, as in Hoult, who has the leading role this time in Renfield. Cage’s part, while meaty, is actually secondary as the emphasis turns to the long-suffering assistant who was tasked with bringing his boss’s prey directly to him, consuming insects of all kinds to gain superhuman powers to conquer them, and basically taking the fall for anything this narcissistic vampire Do not do. find to like him.

It’s a very clever way Universal has found to reboot one of its crown jewels and bring the monster franchise back to cinematic life. It comes from the idea of The walking Dead Robert Kirkman, who has screen story credit on the screenplay actually written by Ryan Ridley. Chris McKay is the director and has loaded it smartly with style. That includes the classic black-and-white early exposure scenes from the 1931 Universal version in which, through the miracles of CGI, both Hoult and Cage have been inserted to tell the story of their relationship, right up to the original dialogue. between Bela Lugosi and the actor who played Renfield in Universal’s 1931 dracula, Dwight Frye.

But make no mistake, this is No your grandfather’s Dracula, more of a very dark contemporary comedy mixed with uninhibited violence and graphically gory, unrestrained body parts being thrown everywhere. In this sense, it’s perfectly in tune with today’s horror audiences who grew up with Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers. Where she really succeeds, however, is with the likable and worn-out Renfield de Hoult, a man who has had enough of this demanding boss and is looking to find his own worth.

Learning of a self-help group that specializes in people in toxic relationships, she shyly shows up one day and finally gets her turn to share the story of her own disastrous relationship, never clarifying that it is actually Dracula himself. These scenes are delightfully witty and serve as good anchors for all the more standard mayhem. It is also key to this plot awkwafina‘s Rebecca, a New Orleans cop with serious anger management issues, who’s on a mission to take down New Orleans’ largest crime family led by the evil Bellafrancesca Lobo (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and her son Tedward (not-so-bright but hard). an imposing Ben Schwartz). When Rebecca meets Renfield, she finally sees that she has a perfect partner to help her, certainly better than her cop partner Chris (Adrian Martinez).

Meanwhile, there’s the matter of dealing with Drac himself, and once the bloodsucker learns of Renfield’s new outlook on life, including a full fashion and personal makeover, a colorful apartment, and other accessories to those who don’t No He approves, pays a (very funny) visit to his new digs, and finds out his next move aimed squarely at the unsuspecting group about to face Dracula’s wrath. There’s plenty more action to come, as well as Dracula’s union with the Wolves, and Renfield’s reckoning, and in a great hour and a half, it all looks genuinely fun.

Yes, the filmmakers could have lost some of the relentless bloodshed and gone more humorous in terms of keeping a more even tone, but it’s still a lot of fun, thanks especially to Hoult, who’s perfectly cast here, and of course . Cage who, unsurprisingly, nails this paper. Awkwafina works her way through it all with great style, and the others try to up the ante with more one-dimensional parts, though Brandon Scott Jones as Mark, who leads the self-help group, really scores points in his few scenes of encouragement. Marco Beltrami’s enhanced score is in tune with the classics of the genre.

Producers are McKay, Kirkman, David Alpert, Samantha Nisenboim, Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst. Universal releases it Friday in theaters only.

Qualification: Renfield
Distributor: universal images
Release date: April 14, 2023 (after opening on March 30 at Overlook Film Festival)
Director: chris mckay
Screenwriter: Ryan Ridley (Robert Kirkman screen story)
Cast: Nicholas HoultNicolas Cage, Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz, Adrián Martínez, Brandon Scott Jones, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Camille Chen
Classification: R.
Execution time: 1hr 33min

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