“Renfield” gives a modern twist to the Dracula legend


OThere is perhaps no more enduring and influential character in the horror genre than Dracula. More than 125 years have passed since the introduction of the Bloody Count of Transylvania in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel. Draculathe titular vampire has been the inspiration for countless tales and adaptations.

Dracula made his first real mark on the big screen in Universal’s classic 1931 black-and-white horror film, Bela Lugosi’s masterful portrayal of the Count, who provides the blueprint for the charismatic monster Dracula is widely recognized today. today. This version Dracula Dwight Frye was seen playing Dracula’s servant RM Renfield, who is madly devoted to his master.

Now, nearly a century later, Renfield has his own film. It was called universal Renfield, in theaters April 14, starring Nicholas Hoult alongside Nicolas Cage’s Dracula. Despite the spoiler alert, Renfield died in late 1931 Dracula, Renfield Director Chris McKay said his film was intended to be a “direct sequel” to that one.

“For me, it’s the only real continuation of Dracula and Renfield in this movie,” he told Collider. “I fell in love with the character of Renfield and his relationship with Dracula. Renfield is a guy who wants out of a bad relationship and doesn’t know how – he’s been in it for 93 years and he wants out. ‘Exit.

Nicholas Hoult as Renfield in Renfield

Michele K. Short — Universal Videos

Who is Renfield?

Renfield was originally written by Stoker as a delusional, “morbidly excitable” patient in an English mental hospital who eats insects and birds in hopes of absorbing their life force. During the course of the novel, she is revealed to be under the psychic influence of Dracula, who promises her an endless supply of edible vermin in exchange for absolute loyalty.

In the 1931 film, Renfield plays the book’s Jonathan Harker, a young English lawyer who travels to the Carpathian Mountains to close a real estate deal with a mysterious reclusive count from Eastern Europe. The film opens with Fry falling under the spell of Dracula in his castle before accompanying Renfield to London on a merchant ship called the Demeter.

Fry’s interaction with Renfield, in particular his haunting, whistling laugh, is considered one of the greatest interpretations of the character, and certainly one of the most endearing. Renfield continued to appear in many adaptations over the years, including in the 1970s Count Dracula and 1992 In Bram Stokers Dracula, even influenced the study of the behavior of psychiatric patients with a penchant for drinking blood. The term Renfield syndrome, jokingly coined by psychologist Richard Knoll in 1992, is now sometimes used to describe clinical vampirism.

Mark (Brandon Scott Jones) and Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) in Renfield (Michelle K. Short - Universal Pictures)

Mark (Brandon Scott Jones) and Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) in Renfield.

Michele K. Short — Universal Videos

How Renfield gives a modern touch to the character

Located in present-day New Orleans, Renfield Offers a comedic take on Dracula’s long-suffering servant. Renfield’s inhuman strength and unusually long lifespan are still fueled by the life force of the insects, but instead of being hopelessly devoted to his master, he refuses their relationship.

As Dracula recovers from a severe daytime burn, Hoult Renfield turns to a toxic relationship support group in hopes of escaping his narcissistic boss.

“He lives in the shadow of his boss in this very toxic relationship the devil wears prada for a while,” Holt said. Screen Rant while filming Renfield. “And then, through the circumstances of this movie, he starts to realize that this isn’t what he wants in life, and he’s tricked and trapped himself in this relationship. And he begins to find his voice and his ability to be a hero.

However, Hoult said he wanted the Renfield that horror fans know and love, especially Fry’s Renfield, to shine in this film.

“(I) tried to steal his stuff as much as I could, especially when he was laughing,” Holt said. “I’m doing the best I can. I also went back and re-read the book to see if there was anything in it. But like I said, we join Renfield at a very different time than his journey at the beginning of this film.

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write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com.

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