Ben’s Breakdown | “Renfield” is Therapeutically Gory and Fun!
We all know of Dracula. He, and vampires in general, stand at the pinnacle of horror mythology. But what do we know of Renfield? He was made Dracula’s “unwilling assistant” over a century ago. It is now the present day, and what has this existence done to him?
I couldn’t wait to see Renfield. Given my love for horror, especially the classic Universal monsters, as well as the new comedic twist we were getting by having people like Nicholas Cage and Awkwafina, I knew this was a movie I needed to see. So, the question is, did it meet my expectations?
The story addresses what immortality might seem like. Since Renfield has been under Dracula’s control for all this time, he has also ceased to age. But Renfield is not a vampire. His appetite isn’t for blood, but he craves insects. This does more than satiate his need for sustenance. It also gives him an incredible power boost. This new characteristic provides the movie with more than just an amusing twist. The audience is given some fun fighting sequences that look as if they came from the combined minds of the Wachowskis and Quentin Tarantino, turning Renfield into an action-comedy movie. However, the heart of this movie doesn’t rest on exploring the vampire myth; rather, it talks about what this type of existence might do to someone, in this case, Renfield. He hates what Dracula is demanding of him in his need for blood, so he seeks out bad people to deliver to his master (which Dracula hates because it’s better if the blood is “pure”), and he achieves that by going to therapy groups. At a group for co-dependents, he begins to question the health of his relationship with Dracula. He starts to assert himself, fights off a gang with guns, and comes to the assistance of a police officer, played by Awkwafina. She has her own issues as she still hasn’t come to terms with the killing of her father (a police captain) when she was a child. She is also trying to deal with a corrupt police department that is in the pocket of a mob family.
Then there is Dracula. He feels a sense of betrayal from his lackey and realizes there must be more to his existence than just drinking blood to stay alive. All of these story threads come together in an explosive third act that resolves each of their story arcs that demonstrates how closely tied well-choreographed action can be with comedy.
The cast in this movie is pretty deep, but its heart rests with the three leads, Nicholas Hoult as Renfield, Nicolas Cage as Dracula, and Awkwafina as the police officer Rebecca. Awkwafina can be a force of nature with her nearly uncontrollable energy. Some of that energy is present here, but director Chris McKay, working with a screenplay by Ryan Ridley (based on an original story by Robert Kirkman), successfully focuses that energy into creating a character that is at her wit’s end. Rebecca is frustrated with her career and the obstacles she continually faces trying to bring down this one specific mob family. Even with hardcore evidence, she cannot make her arrests stick, making Rebecca a character who is ready to explode. Awkwafina uses that energy to bring this frustration to life, both in her struggle to enforce the law, as well as trying to understand Renfield better. Past movies have seen Awkwafina practically bursting out of the screen with chaotic energy. Here, we see a controlled intensity.
I don’t know what can be said about seeing Nicolas Cage as Dracula. Cage has become one of those actors who successfully play each role relatively the same. He’ll bring subtle differences (Cage starts with a heavy Bela Lugosi approach but becomes an amalgamation of various performances) with each part. However, at the core, it is still Nicolas Cage. This isn’t bad, as he manages to make Dracula a highly amusing character.
Lastly, there is Nicholas Hoult as Renfield. Of all of the characters in this movie, Renfield is the one who undergoes the most significant transformation. The first time we meet Renfield is back in the late 1800s. Hoult brilliantly channels Dwight Frye from the 1931 classic starring Lugosi. Moving to the present day, we see a very different Renfield. This character is in a very unhealthy co-dependent relationship where he is taken care of and abused by his master. As the movie progresses, we see Renfield stand up and start to take care of himself. Hoult brings each of these phases with Renfield in a perfectly paced manner. He does not provide any acting shortcuts to the part. Instead, he shows the steps that Renfield takes internally and externally to become the person he realizes he deserves to be. Hoult also balances the dramatic sincerity of being in a co-dependent relationship and the comedy this movie needs. Whether by accident or by design, Hoult’s performance changes the tone of Renfield from being a mere action-comedy into a thoughtful movie about what it means to live an emotionally healthy life.
Renfield was a bit of a surprise for me. I expected it to be fun, but what I got was an unusual creative mix. It was one part Mel Brooks, one part Monty Python, one part Wachowskis, and one part Tarantino, all mixed together in a group therapy meeting for co-dependents. It was a bit of a hot mess, yet it still worked.
I give Renfield 4 out of 5 bags of blood.
Official Website: Renfield | Official Site | April 14, 2023
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.
RENFIELD opens exclusively in theaters nationwide on April 14, 2023.
ONE-LINER: Sucks to be him.
1 thought on “Ben’s Breakdown | “Renfield” is Therapeutically Gory and Fun!”
Definitely in our time heard of Dracula……much movies are also made…..and now think where he gone….does it really existed or fictitious or our illiteracy made it to happen at that time