Renfield is a 2023 American comedy horror film directed and produced by Chris McKay, and written by Ryan Ridley from a story by Robert Kirkman, who also served as producer. Inspired by characters from the 1897 novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, the film stars Nicholas Hoult, Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz, Adrian Martinez, Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Nicolas Cage.
S P O I L E R S
Renfield provides horror (and Dracula) fans a twist in the familiar (ouch!) storyline by casting Renfield in the role of main character. Thus, the story is told from the point of view of Robert, the hapless servant of Dracula, ably played by Hoult. The movie presents the relationship between Robert and Dracula as toxic, demonstrably so especially when expressed in today’s psychological terms.
Renfield’s Dracula is campy and terrorising, brought to life (or undead?) by Nicolas Cage, who simply does what comes naturally, i.e. over-act but in this instance, that is exactly what the part calls for! And Cage looks magnificent as well – from his pallid skin to his sharp teeth – Dracula gobbles up the screen every time he is featured. Which, unfortunately, is somewhat overshadowed by a supporting character, a female cop called Quincy, played unconvincingly by Awkwafina.
Once Awkwafina’s character turns up, her obnoxious persona drains the lifeblood (!) out of the movie. Seriously, how is this person continuing to get roles time and again? She isn’t funny, can hardly act and has zero chemistry with Hoult, who at least can play the part well. Which he generally does.
Together, this odd couple does the impossible i.e. take the challenge to Dracula, backed by the ferocious Lobo crime family, no less. By the third act, even the Dracula enhanced Lobo henchmen are no match for Quincy and Robert. Illogically so. That all said, the comic elements by this time are maxed out at such absurd lengths that one can forgive all these lapses of logic. Barely.
Renfield is silly gory fun, don’t expect anything more.
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