The Buggy Boogie Boogie

The Only Renfield That Matters. Bernard Jukes as Renfield in the original 1924 London stage production of Dracula


Just came from a screening of Renfield with Nicolas Cage, Nicholas Hoult and Awkwafina -- which is about to open here in NYC as part of Universal's Dark Universe reboot. Thanks to Glenn Kenny for the invite. I wish I could say that a splendid time was had by all -- but I'd be a liar. A bloody mess, literally. Strangely enough Renfield was screened in the basement screening room of the swanky Whitby Hotel on West 56th Street. And if you know your Dracula (the book, that is), Whitby England is where the "Demeter" ship carrying Dracula in his coffin and his disciple Renfield crashes ashore. Whitby is also where Bram Stoker wrote his infamous novel, which has never gone out of print. A coincidence obviously, screening this "spinoff" on the Dracula mythos at the designed-to-death Whitby Hotel. I guarantee you that if Stoker had risen from the grave to turn up at the Whitby tonight he'd be heaving his guts out at the misbegotten travesty of this gratuitous gloss on his original, pitched to God knows who, Gen Z I guess. But maybe his estate gets a cut, dunnno. David Stoker take note! Cage hams it up in make-up that makes him resemble a cross between Conrad Veidt's Gwynplaine from Paul Leni's 1928 silent shocker The Man Who Laughs and Lon Chaney in London After Midnight, with rows upon rows of razor fangs -- and with an accent that slides and slithers all over the place around all of horror film history and pop culture at any given moment, with a peculiar emphasis (for a Transylvanian born vampire) on British vocables -- everything from Boris Karloff's queasy-cultured tones to Johnny Rotten's adenoidal sneer. Awkwafina is sadly, awkwardly miscast as a Good Cop just tryin' to do her job, and bug-eating lead Nicholas Hoult has his self-effacing / lovable early Hugh Grant imitation honed to perfection -- his presence as the lead should generate the requisite teen-coin to keep this picture in theaters for, oh, maybe a week or two at best before it goes to streaming.

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