Isn’t it amazing to have Nicolas Cage back in cinemas?! There is truly is no one like the mercurial, surreal performer but of course we don’t mean he has been completely gone from our screens: it’s just a lot of his output in the last decade or so has seen him predominantly confined to the smaller ones. Still, in recent years, he has graced us with his presence in ways only The Cage can with some of his most outlandish work in Mandy, Willy’s Wonderland, Prisoners of the Ghostland, and Color Out of Space, each showcasing the actor’s penchant for the extreme, the expressionistic and the fascinating.

He went full meta last year with The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a brilliant satire film that poked fun at his long filmography and his unique persona, one that showed an often-forgotten funny side that helped him in his early career.

Here he’s supporting fellow Nic, Nicholas Hoult, a performer slowly coming into his own after his string of brilliant turns, not least last year’s hilarious performance in Mark Mylod’s delectable The Menu so, on paper, this dynamic duo should bounce off each other quite nicely and, thankfully, that’s the case here, even if the film surrounding them isn’t quite as delicious. Hoult is the titular Renfield, a long-standing servant to the iconic Count Dracula (Cage) entrusted with bringing his master whatever he desires: young wenches, nuns, busloads of cheerleaders, anything and everything his blood-thirsty boss wants. 90 years since they first made their pact (with 1931’s Bela Lugosi-starring Dracula used brilliantly as the jumping-off point to introduce Cage and Hoult into the film), the modern world is a far more dangerous place than it used to be and finding suitable “donors” is proving slightly more difficult, even more so given that the myths are long forgotten. Now settled in New Orleans, Renfield finds himself questioning his loyalty to the caped carnivore but breaking up with the Prince of Darkness isn’t an easy feat, and it’s made more complicated when he gets entangled with local cop Rebecca Quincy (Awkwafina) and drug lords Teddy Lobo (Ben Schwartz).

Ripe for a new retelling after many years away- the last time we saw a notable Dracula was the Luke Evans 2014-starrer Dracula Untold as well as being mooted as part of the quickly discarded Dark Universe – the sad truth is that Renfield is something of a mixed bag that, while being hugely entertaining for the most part, feels like it’s trying to do too many things at once, so that it end up hugely unfocused and chaotic despite it playing to its lead actors’ strengths. Kudos, though, to director Chris McKay (who shepherded the brilliant The Lego Batman Movie to the screen) and writers Ryan Ridley and Robert Kirkman for trying to bring the characters into the 21st century and trying something unorthodox, even if ultimately it doesn’t quite coalesce. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ll know that the film explores traits of toxic masculinity, abusive relationships, and the pernicious attributes therein but as they’re played ultimately for laughs, nothing really sticks.

Indeed, while most of the performances are decent enough, there’s much lacking from the blossoming love/hate relationship between Hoult and Awkwafina’s police officer: there never feels any real chemistry between them but something hollow and unfulfilled, particularly pitted against that of Hoult and Cage together, with the Oscar Winning performer the film’s trump card. Having spoken before about his love of German expressionism and his want to explore his interpretations of Nosferatu and Dr. Caligari, here can fulfill many of his fantasies, as well as remould his work from 1988’s Vampire’s Kiss (ironic) into his own towering, intoxicating and slightly strange version of Dracula and he has an absolute ball throughout, pushing his limits even further to brilliant effect, as does the film itself. It’s just a shame that the inner workings of the coffin don’t quite complement those outside of it.