Renfield (2023)

Chris McKay directs Nicholas Hoult, Nicolas Cage and Awkwafina in this horror comedy where Dracula’s assistant begins to use his supernatural powers for good.

Three editors. Always a bad sign. They couldn’t find the movie in post-production and it shows. Awkwafina gives possibly one of the weakest, most uncertain performances in a mainstream release in years, especially in the first act when you aren’t even sure why her subplot is robbing us of so much Dracula action. Cage’s Count though is inevitably glorious. He’s making mad genius line choices with every syllable and it is a pleasure. Shame that he disappears for huge swathes of the running time. The comic book inspired production design is nicely OTT. Darkman vibes, especially Dracula’s throne of a hundred blood transfusions. The body horror FX of his mangled corpse slowly regenerating are done practically and are some of the best comedy gore work I’ve seen for a long old time. But the “Renfield saves the day” action feels old hat. CGI blood and wearying martial arts against the same six stunt men in different hats and masks. That’s a trick I’ll forgive a John Wick and a Jackie Chan as what they are trying to achieve is so ambitious and relentless. Here it feels like another pre-production decision that screams of fudge. A true mixed bag of a horror-comedy-romance-action flick in that I’d love to revisit what both the Nics do here but the rest is pretty bleh.


Perfect Double Bill: Warm Bodies (2012)

I write regular features about live comedy for British Comedy Guide here


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