Is Universal’s Dark Universe Truly Dead? Nic Cage’s ‘Renfield’ to Have “Comedic Tone”


Universal has often failed to reproduce the mystique of the original Universal Monsters, despite its best efforts. Sure, there have been wonderful efforts, but none with the same zeal and seriousness. Blumhouse is going to conjure a new Dark Universe, bringing with it a darkness worth celebrating, 90 years after Bela Lugosi’s Dracula and Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein defined horror cinema for the ages.


Now we’re learning that Ben Schwartz has joined the cast of Universal’s monster movie, Renfield, according to THR.  Nicholas Hoult is leading the call sheet, which also includes Nicolas Cage and Awkwafina. Chris McKay, the helmer behind Amazon’s The Tomorrow War and The Lego Batman Movie, is directing the feature project, which is due to begin shooting early next year in New Orleans.



Hoult is starring as the titular character, the infamous acolyte and henchman of Count Dracula, who will be played by Cage while Schwartz will play a mobster.


Renfield first appeared in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula as a patient in an asylum obsessed with drinking blood, deluded into thinking he will find immortality via his vampire master. Renfield takes a look at that toxic and co-dependent relationship, bringing it to a modern-day setting in an adventure story that is said to be comedic in tone.



After the abysmal failure of their planned horror-themed Dark Universe, kicking off with Tom Cruise’s The Mummy, Universal has taken a new approach to reimagining their huge back catalog of horror and monster pictures, enabling directors to contribute their unique creative vision to each production and avoiding any form of interconnection. Invisible Man by Leigh Whannell, released in 2020, was the first of this new wave. Currently, directors Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body) and Chloe Zhao (The Eternals) are working on their own Dracula adaptations, while James Wan is working on a modern-day remake of Frankenstein, Whannell is now developing a Wolf Man film with Ryan Gosling attached to star, and Paul Feig is developing Dark Army.

John Pallister

I'm all about having fun in geek culture, but keeping my family safe!