June 7, 2023

RENFIELD: Dracula Gets Cagey...and Bloody

RENFIELD (Blu-ray)
2023 / 96 min
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😼

Conceptually, Renfield has a ton of potential. Set during present-day New Orleans, the beleaguered title character (Nicholas Hoult) is the narrator, recalling his life of servitude to Count Dracula (Nicholas Cage, of course). He regularly attends a support group for people in abusive relationships. Even though he's been loyal to the Count for decades, he’s subjected to constant physical and psychological torment.

Armed with a self-help book and encouragement of those in the group - the leader declares Dracula a classic narcissist - Renfield begins to develop the fortitude to stand up to him. When focused on these aspects of the story, the film is kind of funny, particularly the way Renfield describes his relationship with Dracula in terms comparable to that of a destructive marriage. Dracula himself doesn’t appreciate this sudden defiance and retaliates violently (and I mean really violently).

Unfortunately, a rather conventional plot is thrown into the mix, which has Renfield befriending dedicated cop Rebecca (Awkwafina), who’s obsessed with bringing down the city's most powerful crime family (the Lobos) and constantly thwarted by her own corrupt department. Since he’s bestowed with a considerable amount of vampire powers himself, Renfield proves to be adept at dispatching bad guys (also really violently). However, Dracula makes the Lobos his new servants and is hellbent on destroying Renfield. This plotline is watchable, aided by some spectacular violence and gore, but never as original, clever or engaging as the scenes where Renfield struggles with his life choices.

Looks like one of these Nicks is oblivious to the concept of personal space.
Speaking of which, Renfield is a charming, likable protagonist, even when tearing someone’s arms off. He’s droll, self-deprecating and ultimately sweet-natured, bolstered by an amusing, sympathetic performance from Hoult. As for the other Nicholas…he’s been doing his whole scenery-chewing shtick for so long that it’s becoming a little rote. The character may be named Dracula, but in the end, we’re just watching Cage being unleashed again, which ironically makes him a lot less interesting.

As bloodsoaked horror-comedies go, Renfield is often amusing, though seldom hilarious. The titular character is a lot of fun, as is the absurd level of gore throughout the film. However, a run-of-the-mill story and predictable quota of “Caginess” undermine its potential to be anything truly unique.


FEATURETTES - “Monsters and Men: Behind the Scenes of Renfield”; “Dracula UnCaged”; “Stages of Rejuvenation”; “Flesh and Blood”; “Fighting Dirty”; “The Making of a Deleted Scene: Renfield's Dance.” (most of these run around 5 minutes, their titles somewhat self-explanatory).

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By producer Samantha Nisenboim, editor Noah Cody, screenwriter Ryan Ridley, sound editors Nancy Nugent & John Marquis, RX supervisor Jamie Price, make-up artist Christien Tinsley



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