Sunday , May 26 2024

Blu-ray Review: ‘Renfield’ – Nicolas Cage as Count Dracula

Renfield is a lightweight but fun horror-comedy that reimagines the relationship between Count Dracula (Nicolas Cage) and his servant Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) as the ultimate in codependency. Think you’ve had a bad boss? Try working for Dracula. Subsisting off a steady diet of bugs (which gives him a tiny bit of Dracula’s immense power), Renfield toils in indentured servitude, supplying the Prince of Darkness with an endless supply of bodies. This is especially necessary after the immortal Count nearly obliterates himself in a skirmish during which he was exposed to sunlight.

Finally weary over the prospect of eternally serving Dracula’s needs, Renfield starts attending a group therapy session for individuals attempting to escape from controlling relationships. It’s a great concept and Renfield works best when mining the idea at its subtlest (though make no mistake, this isn’t a particularly subtle movie). Hoult shades Renfield with the mannerisms of Hugh Grant at his most befuddled (the two co-starred in About a Boy and Grant’s style must’ve really stayed with Hoult). As he tries to convey the horrors of working for Dracula to his fellow support group members, while the rest of the attendees express comparatively mundane concerns, director Chris McKay hits a quirky stride.

Even some rom-com elements slide in with the introduction of Officer Rebecca (Awkwafina), a New Orleans policewoman who receives an unlikely assist when violence erupts at a restaurant. Renfield stops by to stock up on choice bodies for his boss’ consumption. Meanwhile, a local crime syndicate is confronted by Rebecca, who’s intent on making a big bust. Crime boss Tedward Lobo (Ben Schwartz) threatens to do away with Rebecca. As part of his new self-commitments to establish his own identity, Renfield steps in to save countless lives. A love connection is made, but how long can Renfield keep the true nature of his work a secret?

But enough with the recap. There’s a lot to savor in Renfield, not the least of which being the lovingly accurate recreations of Tod Browning’s 1931 Dracula that open the film. In addition to strong turns by Hoult and Awkwafina, Cage steals every scene he’s in. He gleefully, aggressively, cheerfully chews up the scenery in a bravura performance as ol’ Drac. And for gorehounds, there’s a bounty of bloody dismemberments, combusting bodies, and all manner of physical assault. Renfield may not be a horror-comedy classic (it would’ve needed to dig deeper into Renfield’s psyche to achieve true resonance), but it’s fast-paced and consistently entertaining.

Fans have plenty of goodies to dig into with Universal Home Entertainment’s “Dracula Sucks” Blu-ray edition. The audio commentary track includes a wide variety of participants, led by producer Samantha Nisenboim and screenwriter Ryan Ridley but bolstered by numerous technical staff members. Between deleted scenes, extended scenes, and alternat takes, there’s about 20 minutes of excised material. Featurettes include “Dracula Uncaged” (highlighting Cage’s turn as the Count), “Monsters and Men” (standard making-of fare), and several others. There’s even a making-of featurette for one of the deleted scenes.

About The Other Chad

An old co-worker of mine thought my name was Chad. Since we had two Chads working there at the time, I was "The Other Chad."

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