MTMU Reviews: Renfield

“I am here to do your bidding, Master. I am your slave, and you will reward me, for I shall be faithful.” – Dracula by Bram Stoker

I have always been fascinated with the idea of vampires and especially the character of Dracula. It’s interesting how many variations of the character and the mythology have been created on film since 1922’s Nosferatu. You have the classic 1933 Bela Legosi version, the gothic horror of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There’s been pure comic versions like What We Do in the Shadows, and some films that tried to blend horror and humor like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Van Helsing, and From Dusk till Dawn, among others. Trying to balance these two cinematic flavors is tricky and when done correctly, the results are delicious. Renfield directed by Chris McKay delivers on all counts.

Nicholas Cage was born to play Count Dracula and it’s hard to believe that it didn’t happen until 2023. He’s going to be the main reason a lot of people go see the film, but know that he’s the supporting actor here. The main story focuses on Renfield played by Nicholas Hoult and his toxic relationship with the Prince of Darkness. Renfield left his wife and young daughter to become Dracula’s familiar, basically a butler/hunter/uber eats driver/dry cleaning delivery person. He has been gifted some of Dracula’s abilities such as superhuman strength, speed, improved reflexes, and immortality, but he has to eat insects in order to convert their life force into his supernatural abilities. Renfield may have once enjoyed serving Dracula, but the multiple decades of insults, gaslighting, and kidnaping his master’s next meal have taken their toll on his mental and emotional health. 

Renfield feels trapped in this brutal relationship and tries to make the best of the situation by attending a support group for individuals in toxic relationships. Through their stories, Renfield realizes how awful his own relationship with Dracula is and vows to become a better man which doesn’t sit well with the vampire. There’s a lot of humor in the self-help group scenes, but also some pretty decent messaging about getting out of abusive relationships, stopping gaslighting, and more.

Cage has a blast as the Lord of Evil, and he really sinks his teeth into the role. Ben Schwartz plays Teddy (Tedward) Lobo and he really steals the show. His years of improv comedy really pay off as the foul mouth son of a mob boss. Awkwafina had some great one liners, but really plays the straight man in the film. 

The film is violent and has a fair amount of gore, but it’s so over the top it’s like an adult Looney Tunes cartoon come to life. I had an absolute blast with the movie and my only regret is that I didn’t get to see the full musical number that was filmed with Nicholas Hoult but didn’t make the final cut. You can see some still frames from that segment in the final credits, and hopefully we get to see it in the extra features on the Blu-Ray. I’m also hopeful we get a lot of the Schwartz outtakes as he said they would shoot the scene as written and then just improv for about 10 minutes for each scene he was in. The film clocks in at just over an hour and a half, so it keeps things moving along nicely and never overstays its welcome. 

Renfield was an original take on the Dracula story and I had a bloody good time with it. Definitely a film to see in a full theater with a crowd ready to laugh, to cringe, to gasp, and to have a blast. 

A- is my grade.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button