A wildly entertaining, gory action-horror-comedy where Nicolas Cage as Dracula is everything you could have imagined.

Renfield may seem like the the latest vampire offering from Hollywood, but it’s much more than that. Showcasing a new take on the character of Count Dracula (Nicolas Cage) and his devoted assistant/familiar R. M. Renfield (Nicholas Hoult), this comedy-horror focuses on Renfield, the Count’s long-suffering familiar, tired and exhausted bringing victims to Dracula as well as the abuse he receives from his undead master. He dares to dream and wants more out of life.

While I’m shocked at how little business this did in theaters, watching Nicolas Cage playing a truly unhinged, utterly original take on the iconic Vampire of legend makes for a great movie night at home – and is money well spent.

Renfield and Dracula are hiding out in New Orleans so Dracula can recover from a recent encounter with vampire hunters that nearly killed him. After many decades of servitude and abuse, Renfield turns to a self-help group for people in codependent relationships to not only help him deal with his personal problems but to hunt the group’s abusive lovers so he can feed Dracula with a clear conscience.

After saving police officer Rebecca Quincy (Awkwafina) from an attack by the Lobo crime family, Renfield quickly finds himself in the crosshairs of the mobsters who want revenge for the death of their people at the hands of Renfield. But when an angry Dracula discovers Renfield is doing more with his time than just being a servant of the bloodthirsty undead, Renfield realizes that he is going to need to finally step up to his master or suffer the wrath of Dracula.

Nicholas Hoult isn’t the first actor that comes to mind when I think of action movies. While Renfield is sold as a horror-comedy, it definitely has plenty of (very) over-the-top gory action scenes that rival many dedicated action films. Hoult makes for a very surprising action hero who manages to kick some serious ass (albeit with a lot of quick-editing) in some very brutal and insanely gory fight scenes while still managing to stay mostly comedic.

Mix the violent capabilities of his superhuman abilities (via bugs) with Hoult’s polite British demeanor at odds with his submissiveness to Dracula and you end up with a very memorable and entertaining protagonist who’s highly entertaining and fun to watch.

Perfectly offsetting Hoult’s polite and well-spoken Britishness is Awkwafina’s foul-mouthed American police officer whose superpower is sheer determination and attitude. She’s in her comedic element playing someone fully capable of kicking plenty of ass alongside Hoult. While Awkwafina doesn’t necessarily have the acting chops of her fellow co-stars, her personality and demeanor nonetheless suits the role and she delivers a great performance.

Of course the character we really came to see is Nicolas Cage’s take on Dracula and he does not disappoint. In true Cage fashion – and flair – he brings this demanding and sinister character to life, creating a ruthless yet comedic vampire whose only concerns are his own needs and ambitions. Despite the brutal violence at the hands of the Prince of Darkness and his monstrous presence, Cage is able to offset the macabre with moments of comedic playfulness and dare I say, glee?  You really get the feeling he had a lot of fun playing this character. Nicolas Cage as Dracula is everything you could have imagined.

Director Chris McKay (The Tomorrow War, The Lego Batman Movie) has delivered a highly entertaining film with just the right mix of comedy, horror and action. Tapping into the world of modern self-help groups and mixing it with the personal suffering of a long-suffering vampire familiar given supernatural abilities from his vampiric master, at great cost, provides ample fuel for comedy gold.

Juxtaposed with the comedy is the explicit, incredibly gory violence that comes from having a supernatural predator that eats humans as well as the supernaturally charged violent encounters our hero must dish out to not only defend himself but also others. While a great deal of the viscera is computer-generated, McKay also used tons of practical effects to ensure the visceral feel of these horror elements. Be prepared to avert your eyes if you are particularly squeamish.

While there were plenty of laughs and horror throughout the story, what really stood out for me was the quality of the action. Designed to compliment the comedy and horror of the story, the action is well choreographed and fantastically over-the-top. There is a decent body count too, which is an important element for those of us who love our action scenes. You know who you are.

Renfield is a lot of fun and is worth seeing for those who enjoy vampire movies (proper vampires, not the glittery ones) and Nicolas Cage movies. It’s even better for those who enjoy both because you get both in the same film. With exceptional (and exceptionally) gory action scenes that make great use of practical and CGI effects, a truly unhinged performance from Cage, this is even a movie for those who like action movies and don’t mind sitting through the supernatural story in between fights.

  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Release Date: May 2, 2023
  • Distributor: Universal Pictures

Originally published on May 03, 2023 at https://www.popzara.com/movies/vod-reviews/renfield-2023/