Of late, it is reasonable to say that we are experiencing the re-emergence of Nicolas Cage. His recent film, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” took us by storm. In “Butcher’s Crossing” and “Pig,” too, Cage made his presence pretty hard to miss. With “Renfield,” however, he seems to be trying to reclaim the former “flame” we all know him by, one that jumps back and forth between insanity, rage, and hysteria. At the same time, his last outing as a creature of the night was in “Ghost Rider”; In “Renfield,” Cage ups the ante by becoming the OG creature of the night, Count Dracula.
Produced by Universal Pictures and directed by Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie, The Tomorrow War), “Renfield” is a horror comedy the idea behind which came from Robert Kirkman, known for writing Marvel Zombies and Ultimate X-Men for Marvel Comics alongside The Walking Dead for Image Comics. Ryan Ridley wrote the screenplay based on Kirkman’s pitch.
Based in New Orleans, “Renfield” tells the story of Dracula’s servant Renfield, who is fed up with his boss’s evil orders and needs and is attending a group therapy session to cope with his issues. The character is borrowed from Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula” (1897), where R. M. Renfield is the Count’s devoted attendant and thrives on insects. In the trailer, we see Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) complain that he doesn’t want to do the job anymore and wants his life back and a place in the modern world as we know it. However, he soon realizes that the modern world is its own nightmare. He meets Rebecca Quincy (Awkwafina), who is a traffic cop, and apparently falls in love with her, which further boosts his desire to live a new life, one not bound by chains to the Lord of Death. Unfortunately, things aren’t as easy as they seem, as during one such session, Dracula (Nicholas Cage) is invited. A scream from Renfield re-establishes the myth that vampires cannot enter an owned house unless invited in, and all hell breaks loose. Will Renfield be able to prevent Dracula from attaining his full power, or will Dracula get the better of Renfield by using Rebecca as leverage?
Keeping in mind the film’s dark humor aesthetic and that it will bring Dracula to the modern world, we can expect to see a comparison between two different kinds of darkness, one that propels Dracula’s inherent evil and the other on which our world thrives today. The film will seemingly be a commentary on our society by having a legendary dark character explore it from his perspective. Cage told the LA Times that for the role, he took inspiration from three different actors who played the Dark One, namely Bela Lugosi (whom we had seen in 1931’s “Dracula”), Frank Langella (who played the role in 1979’s “Dracula”), and Gary Oldman (who slipped in Dracula’s skin in “Bram Stoker’s 1992 film). Hoult expressed his excitement and eagerness to The Hollywood Reporter for the viewers to see Cage’s take on Dracula, addressing it as carrying a lot of history while being bizarre. Nicolas Cage was born to play such ecstatic roles that require just the right amount of madness. His mannerisms, the way he carries himself, and even his voice are perfect for characters that need a touch of the diabolical. He did a wonderful job with the character of Ghost Rider, no matter how good or bad the films did. On the other hand, Nicholas Hoult has also explored his unstable side in Gorge Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” as one of Immortan Joe’s numerous servants, Nux, as well as his monstrous nature as Hank McCoy, AKA Beast, in “X-Men: First Class,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “X-Men: Apocalypse,” and “X-Men: Dark Phoenix.” So it will be great to see the give-and-take between Cage and Hoult as master and servant, respectively. Surprisingly, Cage has already played a vampire in 1988’s “Vampire’s Kiss.” Despite failing at the box office, it went on to achieve cult status. So we have to wait and see if “Renfield” has any “Vampire’s Kiss” Easter eggs hidden in it. The film will also have a lot of action and won’t shy away from blood and gore, hence its R-rating. We do see some glimpses of it in the trailer when Renfield helps Rebecca fight off some goons. Clearly, there’s a lot more in the film, probably like what we saw in Netflix’s “Day Shift” (2022), starring Jamie Foxx, who kills vampires for money. Now, whether Nicolas Cage takes part in the action is what we desperately want to see.
We hope that “Renfield” works out as a good horror comedy coming this April 14. It’s good to have Nicolas Cage back, and that too in an apt avatar, no offense. He is someone who is worthy of playing the role of a monster, and to have him to put comedy into it! It just doesn’t get much better, does it?
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