Get ready, because there’s yet another new take on Dracula. But no need to brace yourself, because Renfield feels surprisingly fresh.
Nicholas Hoult (The Menu) is the tortured title character and loyal servant to the Count, played by Nicolas Cage, who’s vamping it up with his singular brand of unhinged glee. Renfield leans right into the campy, homoerotic side of things; instead of leaving the hapless lunatic gibbering in an asylum, this Dracula took Renfield into high society and even gave him a taste of his power and strength as his familiar.
True, there are drawbacks like any addiction, in that it harms both Renfield and the people around him, and forces him into a relationship that’s as toxic as it is codependent. It’s also wickedly funny, with Cage absolutely selling the gaslighting nature of Dracula’s insistence that Renfield is the true monster, and that the one who openly craves innocent blood and world domination is the true victim.
Renfield had already begun desiring something different for himself by the time he meets and saves the life of idealistic straitlaced cop Rebecca (Awkwafina). Unfortunately, their paths crossing means the Lobo crime family she’s obsessively pursuing, headed by matriarch Bellafrancesca (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and son Tedward (a standout Ben Schwartz), also come into contact with Dracula, and it’s a true meeting of the monsters.
Action-hungry audiences can count on getting their fix long before the final showdown, with limbs flying in a fashion that owes much to Sam Raimi, along with plenty of salutes to Dracula’s onscreen history, which have been seamlessly digitally altered to include Hoult and Cage in a contribution that will likely stand the test of time even as it embodies our current moment. Let the laughs and the darkly comedic bloodshed flow, because there’s no shortage of either in Renfield. R, 93 min.