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Movie Review - Universal's Renfield

Sucks to be him.

Renfield is a 2023 supernatural comedy horror film directed by Chris McKay, written by Ryan Ridley, produced by Skybound Entertainment and Giant Wildcat, and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is inspired by Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, Dracula. It stars Nicholas Hoult and Nicolas Cage.


"I need to get out of a toxic relationship." - R.M. Renfield

Plot


After spending 90 years as Dracula's assistant, R.M. Renfield is prepared to free himself from the clutches of the evil vampire.


The Sweet


Renfield is basically what you'd expect if you saw the trailer.


The highlight of this movie is, of course, Nic Cage as Dracula. That is the main selling point for the film. That's most likely the reason that everyone who sees this movie buys a ticket. And he is worth the price of admission. He is good at playing into the usual Dracula stuff that you'd expect with the drawling accent and this sleek, elegant feel to him, but he also has this comedic Nicolas Cage edge to him that makes him so much fun.


I also really enjoyed some of the other characters here. Renfield himself is a pretty fun character. Nicholas Hoult is also great. They give him a true arc in this film that really worked. I also felt like Awkwafina's character was better than I expected her to be. Instead of having it just be Awkwafina and her sense of humor, they actually made her more of a fleshed-out character, which just made the movie feel more rounded out. There are some other side villains in here that I thought were fun. The support group that you see in the trailer is chock-full with fun, supporting cast members. I wouldn't call any of these characters themselves great, but they were all just fun.


I think fun is really what Renfield has going for it. Is it a great movie? No. But it's definitely fun. The blend of bloody carnage and comedy is always entertaining for me, and Renfield has that with a side of Nicolas Cage as Dracula. That makes it so much fun. If you like Nicolas Cage or if you like bloody comedies, this movie is worth your time.


This movie also has a quick flashback scene (which has been shown in the trailer) to the 1931 film. I thought that was fantastic. They re-created the iconic Bela Lugosi Dracula with Nicholas Hoult and Nicolas Cage as Renfield and Dracula. Nicolas Cage is shockingly convincing as a replacement for Bela Lugosi, and Nicholas Hoult also feels a great bit like Renfield. That was one of the best parts of the movie for me personally.


The Sour


While Renfield is tons of fun, it's also a complete mess.


The story here is all over the place. There's the stuff with Dracula, yes, but then there's also these drug dealers that are very prominent, and those two do not mix well. You've got this underground criminal world combined with vampires. They also make it so that basically everyone in this movie is corrupt and works for the drug dealers, which just strains credibility. They tried to have these two plot lines with Dracula and the drug dealers intertwine, but it just doesn't work at all.


The film also introduces ideas and then just leaves them hanging. Renfield's job is to bring Dracula victims, and, in the first part of the film, he has a plan for doing that, but then he just abandons the plan about a quarter of the way into the film. There's some other stuff like that with the drug dealers that I can't get into without spoiling, but it definitely just makes the movie feel like more of a mess than it already is.


The movie also does get a bit repetitive at certain points. Around the halfway point, it feels like we're doing the same thing. Awkwafina is trying to catch the drug dealers. Renfield doesn't want to bring Dracula victims, so Dracula gets pissed at him. Then Awkwafina and Renfield meet up. That same cycle repeats a few times and can be very frustrating.


Finally, they introduce a backstory for Renfield near the end of the movie that I found to be very strange. First of all, I don't think we should find out our main character's backstory near the end of the film. Second of all, the backstory that they give him makes him a much more depressing character. It kind of sucked out some of the fun. It made him slightly more compelling, but it just felt weird and out of place because it was introduced so late and it is really sad.


Final Thoughts and Score


Renfield isn't great, but if you want to see some bloody fun and Nicolas Cage as Dracula, you should check this movie out.


I will go Savory here. Age range is 13+.


SWEET N' SOUR SCALE

Sweet (Great)

Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)


"Renfield"


Fun Factor: 8/10

Acting: 7.5/10

Story: 5/10

Characters: 7.5/10

Quality: 7/10


Directed by Chris McKay


Rated R for strong bloody violence, disturbing themes and images, language, thematic elements


Released on April 14, 2023


1 hour and 33 minutes


Nicholas Hoult as R.M. Renfield

Nicolas Cage as Count Dracula

Awkwafina as Rebecca Quincy

Ben Schwartz as Teddy Lobo

Shohreh Aghdashloo as Bellafrancesca Lobo

Brandon Scott Jones as Mark

Jenna Kanell as Carol

Bess Rous as Kaitlyn

Camille Chen as Kate Quincy

James Moses Black as Captain Browning

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