Count Dracula has a long history in film. He’s one of the classic horror icons. He’s the shining example of what vampires should be. From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Hotel Transylvania, the character has been featured in a wide variety of movies with very different tones and styles. Now he’s made his way to the big screen yet again; this time in Renfield played by Nicolas Cage. With countless other Dracula and vampire movies out there, does this one manage to stand out?
The film focuses on the character of Renfield with Dracula as the primary antagonist. Renfield, who’s forced to be Dracula’s lifelong assistant, is tired of him and his evil deeds. This serves as the perfect catalyst for an important message. Themes regarding toxic relationships and how to deal with them, whether it be with a romantic partner, a friend, a family member, a boss, or someone else, are present throughout the film. There are many people out there who have codependency issues or feel like they need to cater to someone else, so it’s genuinely important to see it represented in a film.
The genre of horror-comedy is a tough one to pull off well, but this one excels at it. Despite there being tons of gore and Dracula killing several folks, the humor is top-notch. The dialogue is witty and the situational humor is especially clever. The dark comedy is twisted and delightful. Nicolas Cage being at his absolute Cagey-ist only adds to that.
The action is tremendous as well. The fights are wonderfully well-choreographed and the gore effects all look spectacular. Certain fight sequences and gorey moments happen in some of the most creative ways put to film. Every action seen is extremely riveting to watch.
It’s hard not to root for the main characters of Renfield and Rebecca. The story does a fantastic job at getting the audience to care about them enough to want them to succeed and feel concerned for them when they’re in danger. They have interesting backstories and enough heartfelt moments that the audience will be on their side throughout. Any story that gets the audience to genuinely care is powerful.
Cage’s wacky take on Dracula actually proves to be a great movie villain. Throughout the movie, he performs acts so terrible the audience craves to see his demise. He also feels like a true threat and is genuinely intimidating. It’s quite refreshing to see a modern movie use a villain who is just plain diabolical rather than being misunderstood or a surprise final act bad guy.
The tone throughout the movie is delightfully weird. It’s similar to The Mighty Boosh in a lot of ways. It knows exactly what it is and embraces the ridiculousness and cheesiness while also offering a genuinely good story with great characters. It’s overall a fun niche experience.
The plot is not without a couple of plot contrivances. Dracula has a handful of opportunities to kill some of the named characters with ease but simply doesn’t. Rebecca just so happens to be familiar with protection circles because she came across them on occult Tumblr of all places. It adds to the film’s intentional silliness, but it still feels forced enough to be slightly immersion-breaking.
As entertaining as the action is, there are some scenes where the filmmakers could have laid off the shaky cam a bit. Yes, some shaky cam can add to the adrenaline and the chaotic feel of the scene, but too much of it can be distracting. If it’s hard to see what’s happening, it can really take one out of the scene.