Film Review

Review: A Selfhelpfueled Vampire Movie, ‘Renfield Is Goofy, If Flimsy, Fun

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Review: A Selfhelpfueled Vampire Movie, ‘Renfield Is Goofy, If Flimsy, Fun

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Review: A Selfhelpfueled Vampire Movie, ‘Renfield Is Goofy, If Flimsy, Fun
Review: A Selfhelpfueled Vampire Movie, ‘Renfield Is Goofy, If Flimsy, Fun

In the action-comedy Renfield, the iconic Nicolas Cage finally gives the world his take on Count Dracula and immediately ranks among the best Dracula performances of all time, making Bella Lugasino and Christopher Lee the holy trio. His version of the famous vampire is certainly seductive and self-satisfied, and he delivers it with the heavy dose of sarcasm necessary for a modern comic analysis of Dracula's dynamic with his "acquaintance": Robert Montague Renfield (Nicholas Hoult).

The best horror movies know that monsters are metaphors, and Renfield, written by Ryan Ridley based on a story by Robert Kirkman, who created the zombie epic The Walking Dead, turns Dracula and Renfield's relationship into a modern allegory of codependency and narcissistic violence. Renfield is not only a faithful and persuasive servant who lures unsuspecting human victims to die at Dracula's hands, but also another victim whose life force is extracted not through the throat but through coercion, exploitation and gassing.

The pair make Dracula's final home in an abandoned New Orleans hospital, and after decades of service, Renfield finds a support group for people in toxic relationships. He makes a breakthrough with the group's leader, Mark (Brandon Scott Jones), realizing that unless he puts his boss's needs first, Dracula will never reach his full potential. The joke is that it's about a real monster, a supernatural being that can fly and explode into a pack of bats, not just a rotten lover. But the essence is the same.

"What if Renfield described Dracula in therapy?" It's a good joke used in the trailers, but unfortunately it's a one-joke movie. Directed by Chris McKay, the film feels like a comic sketch stretched into a 90-minute film, thanks to an organized crime scene with spices thrown from above.

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In an effort to do less harm and maybe even do some good, Renfield brings the other members of his team to Dracula to eat the criminals. This puts him at the center of a battle between Teddy Lobo (Ben Schwartz), who supports his crime-fighting mother (Shore Aghdashlu), and young policewoman Rebecca (Akwafina) to avenge her father's death. Things get even more complicated with the addition of an all-powerful centenarian vampire and Renfield, who develops super combat abilities by eating bugs.

The plot may be flimsy and disposable, but Renfield is full of fun and silliness, the sort of movie where the blond Holt pounces on a killer, tearing his body open like a blood-filled balloon while his new girlfriend Rebecca cheers her on. The red thing doesn't sink as long as it shoots out like a geyser of dismembered limbs, our hero wields a variety of club weapons.

That such violence is perpetrated by our endearingly sincere protagonist only heightens the stunning clash of tones depicted in the film's design. Dracula's realm is distinctly gothic and dark, decorated with bags of spent blood, dripping candles and eerie green lights, his appearance undergoing various stages of transformation as he regains his powers. But when Renfield furnishes his apartment, he ditches his Victorian clothes in favor of bright sweaters and khakis to see brightly painted walls and inspirational posters.

The tongue-in-cheek tone and whimsical style give Renfield a 1990s feel, like the classic Cellar Stories (like The Demon Knight). It is based on the entire Dracula story, including the novels and plays from the 1930s and 1960s 125 years ago, depicted in a very self-aware look at the 2020s with fast-paced, fluid cinematography that winks at modern cinema. orient yourself

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Elegant Renfield foam entertainment. To some, it may seem too frivolous, but the point here is not inconsistency, but weakness. Hoult and Cage capture the odd couple's toxic dynamic well, but their performances need a solid story to fully support them, especially Cage's operatic Dracula, who likes to terrorize his naive family members. Renfield does a good job of presenting the product—and some therapist-approved codependency lessons—but unfortunately, it falls a little short.

Walsh is a film critic for the Tribune News Service.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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