“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” - H.G. Wells
Career resurgence is all the rage these days ever since Jon Favreau cast Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. Now it’s all about Keanu Reeves and Brendan Fraser. Rightfully so I might add. You could argue that Nicolas Cage never went anywhere and I would politely have to disagree with you. Let us not forget the nearly unforgivable amount of straight to streaming (straight to dvd for my fellow dinosaurs out there) releases he made. But every now and then he pops up in the mainstream to remind everyone he’s still more than capable.
Joe, from director David Gordon Green is a phenomenal example of his abilities as an understated character actor. Mandy is a manic, hallucinatory revenge epic that proves his over-the-top delivery still very much has its place in the current zeitgeist. Pig is prime Oscar worthy deliverance and as about as subdued as any Nicolas Cage performance before or since. Then of course came the unbridled, highly self-aware comedy/action thriller, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Playing a somewhat exaggerated version of himself, Cage has hopefully solidified his triumphant return. This brings us to today, with his latest, Renfield.
Let’s just say the best part first; Cage as Dracula. Who doesn’t want to see that?
Renfield is about the titular character who has been cursed to serve for all-time, Vlad the Impaler, also known as, Dracula. In the modern age their cover is at constant risk of exposure and their options for sanctuary are limited and dwindling. Seeking help, Renfield finds a help group for abusive relationships. As he expresses himself they convince him of his self worth and that in hopes of ever finding peace he must stand up to his “boss.” Of course none of them know who his overbearing employer is and therein lies the comedy of it all. After he distances himself from his former master all chaos ensues and Renfield and his newfound partner Rebecca must band together and take the darklord down once and for all.
Renfield is an adult comedy, slightly horror induced tale of self discovery and inordinate amounts of gratuitous violence, blood and gore. The level of violence in this movie is absolutely hilarious. Now that may sound demented and maybe it is but that’s also the point of the movie’s copious levels of savagery. It’s a physical equivalent to a dark comedy that makes you laugh at some truly diabolical topics much to everyone’s better nature. At one point a man’s arms are severed and used for combat and it’s hysterical. The movie explores the dangers of going against your better self and giving into the devils of our darker side. And it’s all set against an absurd premise that is fully aware of how crazy this whole thing is and absolutely revels in it.
Cage as Dracula is surprisingly intimidating at times rather than just ridiculous. But worry not for every moment of fear he elicits he is equally as ludicrous and Cage-ish as you could hope for. The make-up he wears in his more physically damaged scenes are grimy, highly detailed and genuinely unnerving. As he demonstrates his abilities he proves himself worthy of the reputation that precedes him everywhere he goes. But as with all hubris comes a downfall. And his name is Renfield.
Nicholas Hoult is an in-demand actor and yet somehow still feels completely underrated in the realm of pop culture. Every role he plays is charismatic and engaging. He is always a welcome presence. As Renfield he masterfully balances a character that is somehow simultaneously the most timid and most dangerous, absolute badass in the room. And he always seems to commit these acts of violence with a certain kind of decorum. Even as he’s delimbing human beings and decapitating the rest he never feels malicious in his intent. It’s a marvel to watch. He is comical in the way he approaches such insanity and matches Cage’s craziness step for step. They are a fantastic duo and even better adversaries making every scene matter as they squeeze out every bit of comedy and violence from what might otherwise be a scant, uneventful script.
Renfield is what you hope it might be. It’s overtly violent and unabashedly silly. It embraces the preposterous idea of Dracula in the age of self worth and self help. Everyone delivers comedy gold and in a fast ninety minutes carries out what it promised from the beginning. Dracula and his servant are in the midst of a labor dispute. That’s just funny.
Rated R For: bloody violence, some gore, language throughout and some drug use
Runtime: 93 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Nicholas Hoult, Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz
Directed By: Chris McKay
Out of 10
Story: 8.5/ Acting: 9/ Directing: 9/ Visuals: 8.5
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below: