Sunday, June 25, 2023


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2023
Director: Chris McKay
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Nicolas Cage, Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Brandon Scott Jones, Adrian Martinez, Camille Chen, Bess Rous, Jenna Kanell, Danya LaBelle, Rhonda Johnson Dents, Christopher Matthew Cook, Michael P. Sullivan, Rosha Washington, James Moses Black, T.C. Matherne
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review
Director Chris McKay who previously handled the hilarious "The Lego Batman Movie" and subsequently the more dour "The Tomorrow War", returns with a new take on the classic Bram Stoker's character, Dracula, this time around focusing more intently on his eternal aid Renfield. The film transports Renfield and Dracula to present day in New Orleans, where Renfield is caring for Dracula after his near demise while battling Van Heflin. While in New Orleans, Renfield discovers a 12-step group for people in codependent relationships, which he realizes closely resembles his own predicament. He decides to track the people who are causing the abuse to some of the people in the group and feed them to Dracula. However while pursuing one of them, the victim is actually connected with drug trafficking which puts Renfield as a target for the Lobo crime family. Dracula is displeased with the victims Renfield keeps bringing, and requests for different ones, which eventually leads Renfield to a restaurant in the hopes of bringing some every day people. However while there, an attack is enforced on officer Rebecca Quincy who is investigating the same crime family. Renfield manages to save the situation, but that only reinforces the Lobo family to focus on further destroying him. To further complicate things, Dracula who in the meantime has become acquainted with Teddy, the son of the Lobo family's boss, forge a partnership to further expand their businesses and Dracula's own dark plans. 
"Renfield"'s premise rests on an attempt at a delicate balance between a gory horror film and a dark comedy, with this latter part toying around with concepts of emotional abuse and codependent relationships. This somewhat modern take on a classic, in this case the relationship and power Dracula holds over Renfield, definitely has plenty of room for dark humor, something that if done right could have been magnified and taken in the direction of what Mel Brooks did with his classic "Young Frankenstein" (finding humor in ponderous material). However Chris McKay and his team of writers comprised of Ryan Ridley, Robert Kirkman and Ava Tramer, don't necessarily mine the Dracula lore for additional details, characters and situations, preferring instead to focus on another character, in this case Rebecca, who is attempting to come out from underneath the shadow of her impressive police officer father and carve her own path. These multiple threads could have worked really well if they had been more easily interwoven, but eventually the writing goes in the direction of introducing a crime family, and from then on the story goes from cliché to cliché, without much novelty or freshness (ah Dracula associating himself with a crime family, check). Sadly none of these characters ever get much substance both in terms of their past journeys or what they're intending to do. The film ends up resting on this premise of: what if Renfield doesn't want to take care of Dracula anymore and wants to do something else, however it does so without fully embracing where that can go and what that means for an immortal character. This easily could have gone in so many different directions, but aside from the spurts of violence and gore, this is somewhat of an inert film. Nicholas Hoult manages to make as much as possible of this every day man caught in a tiresome and abusive relationship, whereas Nicolas Cage doesn't have nearly enough screen time to really savor a character that is quite suited for him. The production team is also not very successful in bringing this particular world to life, including the cinematography which is more reminiscent of a Michael Bay film, making everything look oddly artificial, the same going for the choices in production design. It's a forgettable endeavor for everyone involved in its making.