What would happen if Dracula in Bram Stoker’s story were still alive today? Uniquely, the story’s focus is now on the figure of his assistant, Renfield, rather than the monster. “Renfield,” a comedy-horror film loosely adapted from the original novel and directed by Chris McKay, features renowned actors such as Nicholas Hoult, Nicholas Cage, and Awkwafina. The film, released by Universal Studios with a budget of USD 65 million, is now available on the Prime Video and Apple TV platforms.

Having escaped death at the hands of vampire hunters decades ago, Dracula (Cage) required a substantial amount of time to regain his strength. Alongside his loyal assistant, Renfield (Hoult), they relocate until finding a new lair in the basement of a former hospital in New Orleans. In tune with the modern era, Renfield’s awareness begins to grow. He even attends therapy sessions at a church to break free from his toxic relationship with his employer. In a pivotal moment, Renfield aids a young police officer named Rebecca (Awkwafina), whose actions attract the attention of crime lords in the city. Meanwhile, the now-recovered Dracula sets his sights on Renfield, who has defected from him.

The premise of “Renfield” is indeed exciting. The film incorporates a tribute scene to the classic Dracula movie (1931) in its montage, presenting the story as a continuation of the original. However, the script and comedic tone dilute the narrative. Cage, who is striking as Dracula and poses the most significant threat, loses some of his intensity. The story appears half-baked and lacks commitment in its execution. Today’s audiences are also familiar with the figure of Dracula—through the film or the novel? This is absurd. The film ends up being memorable for being unserious and playful, lacking a sense of threat and tension. The main course, which is the action, remains unvaried.

Baca Juga  Song Bird

Despite its promising premise and star-studded cast, “Renfield” fails to sink its fangs into a mediocre comedy-action story. A budget of USD 65 million is a considerable sum for a film. Judging by its box-office performance, the results indicate a flop. It’s regrettable that the film squandered the talent of its stars and the potential of its premise. In August, Universal is set to release “The Last Voyage of the Demeter,” an adaptation of a chapter from the novel “Dracula.” Judging by the trailer, this film appears much more promising. Skip this one, and anticipate the upcoming release.

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His hobby has been watching films since childhood, and he studied film theory and history autodidactically after graduating from architectural studies. He started writing articles and reviewing films in 2006. Due to his experience, the author was drawn to become a teaching staff at the private Television and Film Academy in Yogyakarta, where he taught Film History, Introduction to Film Art, and Film Theory from 2003 to 2019. His debut film book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2008, which divides film art into narrative and cinematic elements. The second edition of the book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2018. This book has become a favorite reference for film and communication academics throughout Indonesia. He was also involved in writing the Montase Film Bulletin Compilation Book Vol. 1-3 and "30 Best Selling Indonesian Films 2012-2018." Additionally, he authored the "Horror Film Book: From Caligari to Hereditary" (2023) and "Indonesian Horror Film: Rising from the Grave" (2023). Until now, he continues to write reviews of the latest films at montasefilm.com and is actively involved in all film productions at the Montase Film Community. His short films have received high appreciation at many festivals, both local and international. Recently, his writing was included in the shortlist (top 15) of Best Film Criticism at the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival. From 2022 until now, he has also been a practitioner-lecturer for the Film Criticism and Film Theory courses at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of the Arts in the Independent Practitioner Program.


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