Throughout the decades, there has been version upon version of Count Dracula. So many have played him, ranging from the classically trained, like Christopher Lee to modern(ish) comedians like Leslie Nielson. And even though I certainly haven't seen all of them, I think that this was the first time I saw someone playing him where I said "Okay, I'm in" just from the very suggestion of Nicolas Cage as the Prince of Darkness himself, which can only really mean he's gonna have a LOT of fun playing such a fictionally historical character.
As the film starts off, we meet Robert Montague Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) in the midst of a 12-step self-help group for people in co-dependent relationships. Here we learn his quick history for those unfamiliar with the original Dracula story. About 90 years prior to this film, Renfield visits Dracula in the hopes to broker a deal for some land, and in the process, ends up being Drac's "familiar", which grants him superhuman abilities upon consumption of bugs, and immortal life, but with the curse of having to be Dracula's servant, bringing him his "dinner" whenever he needs it, among other things.
Part of Renfield's involvement in the 12-step program includes him being able to seek out the abusers in these relationships and deliver them to Dracula as sustenance. This way, he doesn't need to feel remorse. He follows one to a warehouse of stolen drugs, where he makes some meat out of a few guys with his abilities, but one, Teddy Lobo (Ben Schwartz) manages to escape, only to run into a sobriety checkpoint run by Officer Rebecca Quincy (Awkwafina) who does manage to bring him in, but he gets released due to the police station's overall corruptness, and the only person she can seem to trust is her sister, Kate (Camille Chen), who happens to be an FBI agent as well.
When Renfield brings Dracula the bodies from the scene, Drac mentions how inefficient these corpses are, as he needs the blood of innocents, not the blood of the corrupt. This eventually leads Renfield to a restaurant where he happens to cross paths with Rebecca as well as several members of the Lobo crime family, including Teddy, who ambush her. She stands up to them, which Renfield admires, and the two fight their way out of the situation and become friends. This also starts to inspire Renfield to stand up for himself against Dracula, which proves to be a nearly impossible task. But really, it all turns into a rather fun, if perhaps a little predictable take about standing up for one's self, using the silver screen's ultimate horror movie villain as the main antagonist.
Although the story doesn't entirely stick out, I do appreciate who they used for the subject matter of this movie. What's more, is that the film shows us that essentially, these two are current incarnations of the classic characters from 1931's 'Dracula', which I thought was interesting. We see a black-and-white flashback at the beginning here that's quite honestly very well done, seeing both Nic Cage and Nic Hoult fill in the shoes of Bela Lugosi and Dwight Frye, respectively (although I think Renfield's original first name actually changed, that's just a technicality I feel almost no one is looking at here).
The interesting thing I found with this was that it was actually a reworking of a story that landed in development hell after the dismal failure of 2017's 'The Mummy'. It then became a choice to bring this concept back, leaning into the more comedic aspects of the story. There was some back-and-forth, but really, all I think they needed to put butts in seats from the get-go was the casting of Nic Cage as Dracula. It just seems like one of those suggestions the common man would simply flock to just to see. Imagine it along the lines of casting Christopher Walken as the Wolfman. It's something you don't think of immediately, but damn it sounds like fun. And, if I'm honest, Cage definitely delivers here.
I had fun with this one, but I also have a bit of a bias toward a good, gory horror comedy that leans into the comedy. My only real criticism is of the character of Rebecca. Generally speaking, I enjoy Awkwafina in what I see her in. But Rebecca's character can be a lot at times. Although we are supposed to relate to her overall situation of frustration, there are often times when you just wanna tell her to calm the hell down. But that's really about all I can say about it negatively. It may be a familiar moral in the end, but if you're anything like me and wanna see this just for the good time it simply suggests you'll have, I doubt you'll be very disappointed.