Outrageously funny, incredibly well-acted and featuring more gory action sequences than you can shake a dismembered arm at, Renfield is a blast from start to finish.
BY BECCA JOHNSON APRIL 12, 2023
Directed by Chris Mckay (The Tomorrow War), starring Nicholas Hoult (The Menu) in the titular role and none other than Nicolas Cage (Con Air) as Count Dracula himself, Renfield is a razor sharp vampire flick with a humorous bite. Having grown sick and tired of the constant gaslighting and ridiculous demands from his boss Dracula, Renfield attempts to find a new lease on life. However, this comes at a price, and his boss isn't happy with him. Outrageously funny, incredibly well-acted and featuring more gory action sequences than you can shake a dismembered arm at, Renfield is a blast from start to finish.
By watching the trailer and reading the plot synopsis for Renfield, you know exactly what you're getting yourself into before the movie even hits the screen – this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It doesn't take itself seriously at all, and that's made clear from it's first few moments. It thrusts it's audience into blood soaking action, with cartoon-ish blood splatters, heads being chopped off and body parts being used as weapons. It may be gory, but it sure is fun with it and despite the humorous approach, the choreography is great. It's bright and eye-catching with cool use of colour, costume design, set design, hair and make-up, sucking you in and immersing you into it's New Orleans setting. Fun can also be had with the script, that shoves in more comedy than you think is possible – every line hits. It is laugh out loud funny, guaranteed to make most viewers chuckle. From witty one liners to hilarious facial expressions from Cage, it's a riot.
The actors are all clearly having as good of a time as the audience, with stellar performances across the board from an entire cast that understood the assignment. Hoult is fabulous as Renfield, who delivers his comedy just as well as his more serious scenes. It helps that the character is well written, but Hoult does a nice job at delivering his material regardless, whether he's kicking ass or crying at AA sessions. Awkwafina is of course a queen of comedy, this movie being no exception. Again, her character is layered and despite often coming from a comedic angle, she gets a few heartfelt moments as we learn her backstory that are well acted and believable. Ben Schwartz, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Adrian Martinez also all deliver. We're here for one main reason – Nicolas Cage. His turn as Dracula is fantastic, managing to master both campy and creepy in equal measures. He looks the part, he sounds the part and there's not one second that we doubt him in this role. If you're buying a ticket to this movie for this factor alone, he's worth it.
The Count Dracula we get in Renfield is different from any we've had before. This time, he embodies the worst boss you've ever had, and is a vessel for discourse on abusive relationships. This seems like a stretch, but the more it plays out, the more it works. They keep the tone light but pay it enough attention for it to have a lot to say, feel worthwhile, but still make us laugh. Where the movie falters is around it's middle, when the script becomes slightly bogged down by it's story and gives us a little less Cage, and a little less action. Despite this, the story is still likeable, and the slower section doesn't hinder too much enjoyment. There's plenty of blood, guts, gore and action to sink your teeth into, and the narrative is never the movie's best asset – it was never meant to be.
There are one or two elements of Renfield that don't work perfectly, and occasionally slow it down a touch too much. It's at it's best when it's being as over-the-top as it can, and it has to be commended for it's crazy action sequences. It uses humour and horror nicely, leaning into the former much more than the latter but still delivering enough gore to impress those who enjoy a scare. It's laugh out loud funny and will have your sides splitting – you'll arrive for Cage, but you'll stay and rewatch for the humour. It hits every vein it needs to, and is deserving of being seen with a large audience.