Renfield Review

Friday 14 April 2023

Plot: Renfield, Dracula's henchman and inmate at the lunatic asylum for decades, longs for a life away from the Count, his various demands, and all of the bloodshed that comes with them.

Film: Renfield

Director: Chris McKay

Writers: Ryan Ridley, Robert Kirkman

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Nicolas Cage, Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz

Renfield follows the titular character (Nicholas Hoult) as he tries to navigate being a reluctant servant of Dracula (Nicholas Cage), who is trying to get back to full power in a modern world where drinking the blood of innocents is a lot harder than it was back in his day. While trying to find victims to satisfy his master, Renfield meets Rebecca Quincy (Awkwafina), a cop who is working on a case against Teddy Lobo (Ben Schwartz), who both end up playing a key role in this film.  

When you go to watch a film starring Nicholas Cage, you know what you’re getting yourself into. Expect the cheesiest, ham-acting and an all-round good time even if it isn’t a five-star watch. I was expecting a guilty pleasure kind of watch from Renfield and was surprised at just how fun it was. This is an example of horror-comedy done right, the violence was over the top and bloody, Dracula was outrageous and Renfield himself was sort of adorable, bumbling his way through balancing a life of killing for his master and trying to save his new friends. 

It was an interesting take on classic vampire lore, and how those old tropes play into the 21st century. Things like the police force and an advancement in technology making it difficult for people to just disappear, which is a problem for a vampire who needs to feed, and finding somewhere to live for all eternity is expensive. I still would have liked to have seen something new in amongst the stuff we already know about vampires, but this might not have been the right film for that, and it didn’t really take anything away from my experience. 

Something that was refreshing was how the film didn’t try to force a relationship between two characters of the opposite sex. Renfield and Rebecca had more of an admiration for one another, based on witnessing acts of bravery. Other than a slightly awkward hero-cop worshiping message, I enjoyed the characters and thought the chemistry between them worked well. My only real complaint is that we got more between Renfield and Rebecca than we did with Dracula and Renfield, and while this is a film obviously more about the latter, it still felt like wasted potential not to have more of Nicholas Cage’s flamboyant Dracula. 

This film is a definite recommend from me, a film with a ninety-minute runtime that still manages to tell a story, make you laugh and pack a punch. 

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