Thursday, April 13, 2023

A pair of talented Nics gives goofy and violent screen life to 'Renfield'

Nicolas Cage is back as Drac, and Nicholas Hoult tries to turn away from devoted servant duty as the co-dependent title character in the bloody enchanting and silly "Renfield." 

Cage, always a hoot in the midst of comedy, thrilled us as another over-the-top bloodsucker in "Vampire's Kiss" (1989), but here his ever-ancient Dracula gives him more to talk about, including one magnificent soliloquy that just about evokes every emotion available to feel.

After all, he is trying to convince his long-lasting "familiar" (the nicely mixed-up Hoult) to stick with him so they can dominate the world together. Now in the modern times of present-day New Orleans, though, Renfield has other plans, stemming from his attendance at group-help sessions AND being smitten with a no-nonsense cop (Awkwafina).

Of course, the latter has enough on her hands in trying to stop the bloodthirsty mob run by a tough mother (always terrific Shohreh Aghdashloo) and generally annoying son (Ben Schwartz) that killed her lawman dad and controls the notoriously corrupt Big Easy.

The swiftly moving blend of very old and new comes courtesy of director Chris McKay ("The Lego Movie") and first-time screenwriter Ryan Ridley, filmmakers who keep exploits feeling like fun even when showing off uncommonly wild ways to off mostly bad guys. 

Rated "R" by MPAA: bloody violence, some gore, language throughout and some drug use; 1:33: $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

(Also opening Friday in theaters: "Nefarious," "Mafia Mamma," "The Pope's Exorcist," "Suzume," and "Sweetwater." Meanwhile, "The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die" can be found streaming on Netflix.)

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