Renfield – REVIEW

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With the British reputation for bad dentistry it would seem that a British actor would have been ideal casting for the fang faced vampire Dracula. Instead we have Nicolas Cage in full on flamboyance mode with a mouth full of fangs. Here, Dracula needs fresh blood to restore him to his previous glory after an incident ended disastrously reducing him to looking like a 12 month past its sell by date pizza.  And despite his powers he is now reliant on his manservant / slave Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) a sweet natured man who Dracula preys on in parasitic manner to get him fresh victims.

Renfield has had enough and is desperate to escape his master’s bidding and in order to do so attends a self help group for those in abusive narcissistic relationships and its members all have stories of woe (the only person missing from the group is Prince Harry). Into the mix is thrown Awkwafina as a cop with a personal vendetta against a city mob headed up by Bella Francesca (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and her violent potty mouthed son Ted (Ben Schwartz) and it’s this crime family who will form an allegiance with Dracula which will be catastrophic for the world.

There’s plenty going on here in what is a breezy 90 minute film with a lot of gore for horror fans (albeit being CGI blood which gets more obvious as the film progresses) as well as several decent action set pieces notably one in an apartment where Hoult’s wire work sees him flipping around, impaling villains on their own limbs, ripping off faces and punching heads off in a shower of blood and a pile of bodies. What works less well is the Awkwafina plot where her character provides a hinted at romantic interest and she is ultimately a plot device to tie the crime family in with the horror.

What works far better is the relationship between Cage and Hoult. Cage, as now sees obligatory, who absolutely revels in the role, a role which he  purportedely has always wanted to play. Deliriously demented and as unhinged as we’ve come to expect from him he channels Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee and at times even a hint of Austin Powers. Hoult proves that he is reliable support and here he adopts super powers by snacking on insects in the same way that Popeye chows down on spinach and the pair spark off each other well in what is ultimately something of a genre mash up of horror–comedy-thriller territory.

related feature: scream queen Barbara Crampton chats to us about playing a vampire

related feature: disc review of Hammers’ ‘Lust for a Vampire’

We chatted with director Chris McKay about the film and working withy Nicolas Cage….

Here’s the Renfield trailer…..

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