Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Adam McKay.
Starring Nicholas Hoult, Nicolas Cage, Awkwafina.
Comedy, US, 92 minutes, certificate 15.

Released in cinemas in the UK on14th of April by Universal.




I may be wrong, considering his prodigious back catalogue over the years, but the last time we saw Nicolas Cage donning a set of sharp fangs was way back in the early 1990’s with VAMPIRE’S KISS. This tale of a New York yuppie’s breakdown was an early example of Cage’s more eccentric and extravagant acting choices that have made him such an internet favourite over the years. Scenes where he recites the alphabet in the style of an epic strop and screams “I’m a vampire!” repeatedly while wearing joke shop fangs have made that film something of a cult classic, so when the news broke that Cage would be playing Dracula himself there was much rejoicing amongst his fans. Such a pity, then, that such a perfect piece of casting is buried within such a bland and unsatisfying film.


Nicholas Hoult takes centre stage here as the titular character, the faithful bug-eating manservant to the Count, introducing himself through an excellent sequence that recreates the look and feel of the original vintage Universal films of the 1930s that seems to promise something more than the rest of the film fails to live up to. Instead, we are treated to a comedic take on Renfield’s voyage of self-discovery as his own person, struggling to break free from the bonds of a toxic relationship.


It is a smart premise loaded with possibility, but here it is bogged down with a convoluted plot involving a crime family who runs New Orleans, where Renfield and his master are hiding out after a run-in with some pesky vampire hunters, and Rebecca, a traffic police officer seeking justice against the mob who are also responsible for her father’s death. After foiling an assassination attempt against Rebecca, Renfield feels a new sense of purpose and, with the help of a self-help group, makes moves to distance himself from Dracula, who is less than happy with the developments his once faithful servant is making for himself.


All of this is packed into a ninety-minute film which, despite all its gags, gore and action, struggles to make the right impression. Most of the film is delivered in a broad American sitcom style where the cast pause after delivering their lines as if they are waiting for an audience reaction laughter track. Hoult plays the stock character of a bumbling, charming Englishman abroad playing against Awkwafina’s hard-edged and sarcastic cop character, with neither doing enough to shed the cliches of each role. Rising above it all, quite literally in one scene, is Cage, who just is not in the film enough. He pays tribute to Bela Lugosi nicely, all slicked back hair and rich European accent with the right amount of humour, delivered in his own inimitable and eccentric style without going over the top.


If the film had concentrated on the relationship between Renfield and his master and their place in the modern world, there may have been something more satisfying than what we get here. All that director Chris McKay seems interested in is going for the easy and obvious laugh as quickly as possible and failing to make the most of a promising premise and the cast at his command. Cage, despite his all too brief appearance, keeps it from being a complete disaster, but this is still too much of a missed opportunity.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans