I’m not doing the 31 days of horror thing this year (look at news, I’m no longer in the mood). But a few will be seen, and today’s is Robert Kirkman’s Renfield (2023).
So Robert Montague Renfield (Nicholas Hoult, the shitty young Beast from X-Men) is attending 12-step codependency meetings to get out of his century-long contract with Count Dracula (Nic Cage, not phoning it in for once!). Quincy (“Awkwafina”, no shit, some youstube performer who can’t spell “Aquafina” or her real name) is a young traffic cop who keeps having run-ins with her nemesis, junior gangster, murderer of her father, all around asshole, Teddy Lobo (Ben Schwartz, Parks & Rec), son of Bella Lobo (Shohreh Aghdashloo, aka Avasarala! Finally some talent!).
And this starts off light, then gets some pretty amazing fight scenes; all digital cartoon nonsense, but really fun. Limbs & blood everywhere. Renfield in this is improbably powered up by eating bugs, like a mass-murdering Popeye with yellow eyes.
Nic Cage plays Dracula right on the edge of camp, but pulls it back to menacing Prince of Wallachia impaling enemies level. No joke, the best Dracula since Klaus Kinski, beats the pants off Gary Oldman or Leslie Nielsen. The “Dracula Powers” are beautifully done. Nobody does the bullshit of “oh it can’t be Dracula, he’s a fictional character” or worse, “what’s a Dracula‽ I’ve never heard of this!”, they live in a world where both the story & history are real.
Every fantasy RPG referee needs to watch this to see how to use Dracula to kick your ass. Watch all the fights again and again to see what a high-Level undead does to low-Level mortals.
Storming of castles, predictable and unpredictable fighting techniques (I laughed out loud at a… disarming… scene), dirty cops & mob straight out of Batman, it’s got it all.
It’s rare to see a vampire movie walk the line of humor, fights, and horror Dracula. Most only manage one, often none. Like, Lost Boys has comedy (Frog Bros), great fights and vampire dark dream, fantastic soundtrack, but the Master is as lame & unthreatening as a high school principal. Nic walks in a room with a top hat, cane, and fur coat, and you know he’s gonna bleed you.
There was no noticeable soundtrack to this, except some incidental music and ska played by victims, and I think part of a My Chemical Romance song.
The film escaped from the “Universal Cinematic Universe” catastrophe, and is the one good thing so far to come out of that.
I slightly dislike the happy ending epilogue, there should be more of a price for heroism or everyone would do it?