We’ve already got a modern day Dracula movie in the works. A future Dracula movie, too. Hell, Van Helsing’s getting one. So really, one might ask, why not a standalone movie for Dracula’s dominated henchman?
Deadline reports that Universal has tapped The Lego Batman Movie’s Chris McKay to direct Renfield, based on a script from Ryan Ridley and an original story idea from The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman. Previously, Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody’s Dexter Fletcher had been attached to direct the film, but he has now moved on to direct Paramount’s reboot of the spy thriller The Saint.
As the name implies, the movie is focused on R.M. Renfield, a character from Bram Stoker’s classic horror story who is a patient at Dr. Seward’s asylum, detained for killing and eating various insects and animals because he believes that allows him to absorb their life force. It’s eventually revealed that Renfield has come under the thrall of Count Dracula, who provides him with insects and rats to eat in exchange for his loyalty — a loyalty Renfield struggles with until meeting a grisly fate at his master’s hands.
Which makes it very interesting, then, that Deadline describes the story as having “humour and action,” something “the studio was looking to have more of because so many of the other properties [in Universal’s Monster catalogue] have a more horror element.” Because naturally, when you think of an asylum patient killing and eating a food chain of insects, rats, and birds in a quest for immortality envisioned for him by a vampire, you think of a right old barrel of laughs.
This is not the first Dracula-adjacent project Universal’s cooked up as part of its ambitious plans to re-invigorate its staple of monster movie icons. As previously mentioned, not one, but two movies about the titular count are in the works — Jennifer’s Body director Karyn Kusama is working on a modern-day take on the iconic vampire, while The Eternals’ Chloé Zhao is re-imagining the story as “an original, futuristic, sci-fi Western.” And that’s before you get to Julius Avery’s Van Helsing tale, too!
We’ll bring you more on Universal’s plans for what seems like the entire cast of Dracula as and when we learn them.