In this modern monster tale of Dracula’s loyal servant, Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men franchise) stars as Renfield, the tortured aide to history’s most narcissistic boss, Dracula (Oscar® winner Nicolas Cage). Renfield is forced to procure his master’s prey and do his every bidding, no matter how debased. But now, after centuries of servitude, Renfield is ready to see if there’s a life outside the shadow of The Prince of Darkness. If only he can figure out how to end his codependency.
What We Thought:
I had a lot of fun with Renfield. It has its issues, but it’s something I’d watch again and recommend to the horror-comedy crowd. Nicolas Cage plays a solid Dracula honoring previously made Dracula movies, but it’s Nicholas Hoult’s everyman charm that will win you over. He follows up the dark comedic gem The Menu with this, another dark comedic gem.
Before you go in thinking it’s the latest adaptation of a Dracula story it’s called Renfield for a reason, it’s about Dracula’s co-dependent assistant. He doesn’t have the power to stand up to his boss. He moves from town to town after Dracula has caused enough problems and he’s the one bringing in the bodies for Dracula to drain. It’s a mentally abusive relationship and it makes for a great self-help storyline.
That’s where the movie shines, when it humanizes Renfield who wants to escape his life. He seeks treatment in a support group. When he finally stands up for himself, he tries to get his life in order. Of course he gets involved with some shady people and tries to squash everything while appeasing his boss.
Cage brings just enough over-the-top/overacting to Dracula that makes him very watchable. It’s not a parody, it’s an homage. Cage clearly enjoys the old Universal monster movies and he brings a throwback style to the character. People might want more from him because of the pictures that have been leaked, but it’s Hoult’s movie.
Hoult carries the film. I’ve been a fan of his for years and it’s yet another great performance from him. He brings the physicality of his role of Beast in the X-Men films with his off-beat charm of Warm Bodies. You genuinely root for him despite knowing he’s gotten people killed for decades.
Speaking of that physicality, the film has a lot more action and violence in it than I expected. Sure vampire movies can be violent, but man is this up there. There is a ton of blood and comedic violence throughout. It’s not the action comedy Violent Night is, but it might be better or at least on par with the violent comedy elements of Cocaine Bear. If you enjoyed Violent Night and/or Cocaine Bear, you’ll dig this.
As much as I liked Renfield and do recommend it, it does have some issues. I think I’m over Awkwafina’s gimmick. The third act falters a little despite a great action sequence ending. There’s a few too many characters involving Awkwafina’s police force and FBI sister. That whole sister/dad side story really wasn’t necessary and didn’t bring much to the film. But overall I had fun with it and I hope it’s a surprise little hit at the box office.
Renfield is directed by Chris McKay (The Tomorrow War, The LEGO Batman Movie) from a screenplay by Ryan Ridley (Ghosted series, Rick & Morty series), based on an original idea by The Walking Dead and Invincible creator Robert Kirkman.
The film co-stars Awkwafina (The Farewell, Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings), Ben Schwartz (Sonic, The Afterparty) and Adrian Martinez (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Focus).
Renfield is produced by Skybound Entertainment partners Robert Kirkman and David Alpert (The Walking Dead, Invincible), co-presidents Bryan Furst (Daybreakers) and Sean Furst (Daybreakers) and by Chris McKay. McKay’s producing partner Samantha Nisenboim (co-producer, The Tomorrow War) will executive produce.