Film Review: “Renfield”


  • Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Nicolas Cage
  • Directed by Chris McKay
  • Rating: R
  • Running time: 1 hr 33 mins
  • Universal Pictures
Currently in theaters and available on streaming is the Nicolas Cage foray into comedy horror titled “Renfield.” While Cage is an absolute delight as Dracula, “Renfield,” which is told from the viewpoint of Dracula’s human assistant, does not quite live up to the standard set by the 2014 classic “What We Do in the Shadows.” It does have moments of genuine levity, but it also falls flat in others and a performance by Awkwafina in a supporting role is nothing short of annoying.
“Renfield” opens with some creative, black-and-white recreations of scenes from 1931’s “Dracula” with Cage supplanting Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula and Nicholas Hoult supplanting Dwight Frye as Renfield. It is a wonderful way by director Chris McKay (“The Tomorrow War,” “The Lego Batman Movie”) to present a quick backstory before the story moves closer to present day. An attack on Dracula by vampire hunters, and his subsequent assistance from Renfield, who gains some of his master’s powers by eating insects, reveals just how much the Count needs his servant as well as how manipulative he is of him.
Finding refuge in an abandoned building in New Orleans, Renfield seeks out new blood for his master as he recovers from the last attempt to destroy him. Wanting to avoid killing innocent people, Renfield attends a group counseling session for people who are being controlled by others. He then seeks out these “bad” people and delivers them to Dracula for food. However, Dracula grows tired of this and wants a busload of cheerleaders instead.
Tired of being under Dracula’s thumb, Renfield begins to branch out on his own and even attempts to court a New Orleans traffic cop (Awkwafina). Amid all this, they become embroiled in a fight to bring down a notorious and ruthless gang in the city, which turns the story into a complete mess as it runs off the rails. “Renfield” goes from being creatively funny to nothing less than dull and uninspired.
Cage’s performance is the strongest suit for this film. It’s campy at times but always entertaining. Hoult is a good counterpart to Cage yet he and McKay fail to delve much into the insanity that would seep into the mind of anyone who had been harvesting victims for a vampire for decades. Hoult and Awkwafina have zero chemistry, and the latter fails to bring any comic relief to the table. In fact, it’s painful to watch.
Overall, “Renfield” has some good moments and it’s great to see Cage in a major motion picture again, but it’s only worth your time if you have nothing else to do.
“Renfield” receives two stars out of five.

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