Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 33 minutes, Director – Chris McKay
After decades of serving Dracula (Nicolas Cage), assistant Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) wants out, however it’s difficult when interacting with the police and the most powerful crime family in New Orleans.
For those going to Renfield for Nicolas Cage giving a rather Nicolas Cage performance as Dracula you’re unlikely to be disappointed. While not flooding the film he’s certainly in it more than you might expect from the trailers. He’s clearly enjoying giving his raspy performance, commanding familiar Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) to bring him more innocent victims whose blood can help bring him back to full power. While Cage is enjoyable the element which truly pushes his performance is the make-up which constructs a gradually repairing Dracula, after almost being burned alive at the start of the film.
He and Renfield take to New Orleans after an attack from hunters try to take the count down. There Hoult’s character attends meetings for those in toxic and co-dependent relationships, listening to their stories and attacking their partners to take to Dracula. However, none of this is enough – “I don’t ask for much, Renfield. Just the blood of a few dozen innocent victims” – a life of just drinking blood isn’t enough. Dracula wants the achieve world domination, and its this which finally pushes his assistant away from him. Going for a life of his own Renfield starts to try to help people instead of killing them. However, this winds him into interactions with the police, particularly officer Rebecca (Awkwafina) – the only non-corrupt officer in the force, it seems – and the most powerful crime family in the city, the Lobos.
The narrative winds in and out of each perspective as each side-character, or at least person Renfield seems to form a relationship with, gets their own subplot. Certain points may wind themselves into the core narrative, but a number of scenes never quite feel like they’re adding context to a moment or pushing the threat to be faced, instead like they’re forming a new strand to follow. With so much going on, and with the general tone and style of the film, things often feel better suited to a TV show. A number of scenes feel like a feature adaptation of a series and as a whole with everything that happens 93 minutes seems like the right amount of time for this particular film.
There are handfuls of amusement throughout and a generally enjoyable tone yet often the things that generate the most response are the visual details. As mentioned there’s a lot to like about the occasional Dracula makeup, but also the splatter and gore shown in a number of action sequences provides a lot to enjoy. For a film that could so easily play into the 12 rated category it leans into the 15/ R certificate bloodshed with a visible grin. It’s such points in the film, alongside the light humour, which brings in the entertainment factor and manages to keep you engaged throughout. It’s very much a film to sit down, switch off and simply enjoy for what it is for around 90 minutes.
While certain aspects within the subplot-filled narrative may feel better suited to a TV series there’s enough humour and splatter within Renfield to keep audiences amused and engaged for its comfortable 93 minute run-time.