Renfield – Movie Review

TL;DR – At times, it is a delightful bloody mess, but it does struggle in places

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film


Renfield Review

Some genres in cinema are almost timeless and resurge from time to time. The last time vampires surged to the front, they were sparkly and problematic for various reasons. But with the recent strengths of What We Do in the Shadows, it was only time until someone took that energy into the cinema space, and that is what we are looking at today.

So to set the scene, we open with Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) giving a little back history of his life since he rocked up to Count Dracula’s (Nicolas Cage) castle at the start of the 20th century. When Dracula gets injured by sunshine when hunters attack, Renfield moves the two to New Orleans to set up in the dilapidated Charity Hospital. Renfield needs to find victims to help Dracula heal, so he attends a co-dependent relationships self-help group where he hunts for abusers. However, one day while protecting Rebecca (Awkwafina) from Tedward Lobo (Ben Schwartz) and his henchmen, he saves many innocent lives, sending him on a crash course with his master.  

Renfield mopes.
Renfield has a particular vibe. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Right off the bat, I liked how this vampire film takes a modern approach to lore while respecting the history that has come before. This approach grounds the film in the familiar while taking it in new directions. New Orleans is not the first place I would have thought to set a vampire film, but in hindsight is a perfect location. While I am not sure I would have liked to be the NOPD, given how they are depicted here, the scaffolding they use to buttress the narrative feels solid.

Renfield is coming into this world with a particular vibe, and because of that, I think you will either jell with it or not. You could feel in the audience I watched it with those who were along for the ride and those who were tuning out. I would say that the style of the comedy and the violence had big Cocaine Bear energy, and I think the exploding priest at the start of the film will be a good gauge if this is the film for you or not. Indeed, the action takes on a very bloody tone when you can rip limbs off people at a whim.

Dracula rises.
Nicolas Cage chews all the scenery. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The other strength that Renfield has is the cast. Everyone has a great rapport with each other. Nicolas Cage is chewing all the scenery, which is a delightfully camp role. Shohreh Aghdashloo is the perfect villain, and Ben Schwartz works as Bellafrancesca’s less competent son. Where the film struggles the most is the potential love interest ark between Rebecca and Renfield. Both characters work alone or in their joint action scenes more than in any other part of the film. Indeed, much of the connective tissue in this film just falls flat. Whenever the film tries to have a serious point, it tends to get in its own way.

In the end, do we recommend Renfield? Well, this film is a very particular vibe, so if you liked the before-mentioned Cocaine Bear or Violent Night, then this will be a film for you. However, if you heard those two titles and internally rolled your eyes, well, that is the answer for you. If you liked Renfield, I would also recommend to you The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.         

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Renfield?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us
Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day. 

Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Renfield
Directed by
– Chris McKay
Screenplay by – Ryan Ridley
Story by – Robert Kirkman
Based on – Characters by Bram Stoker
Music by – Marco Beltrami
Cinematography by – Mitchell Amundsen
Edited by – Ryan Folsey, Giancarlo Ganziano & Zene Baker
Production/Distribution Companies – Skybound Entertainment, Giant Wildcat & Universal Pictures
Starring – Nicholas Hoult, Nicolas Cage, Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Brandon Scott Jones, Adrian Martinez, Camille Chen, Bess Rous, Jenna Kanell, Danya LaBelle, Rhonda Johnson Dents, Rosha Washington, James Moses Black, T.C. Matherne, Caroline Williams, William Ragsdale, Helen Chandler & Edward Van Sloan
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Germany: 16; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R


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