REVIEW: Renfield: Fun and full of heart – and vampires.

Nicolas Cage livens up the screen in “Renfield.”

This was one of those movies that I wasn’t really sure what to make of. At first glance, it sounds like a concept that would be a joke between writers: what if Renfield, Dracula’s crazed assistant, was actually in a toxic relationship with the Transylvanian bloodsucker? It seems absolutely absurd, right? But after seeing that one of my creative heroes, Robert Kirkman, had a hand in coming up with the story of this film, I was intrigued. 

The film follows Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) as he grapples with the demands of his boss Count Dracula (Nicolas Cage) and his burgeoning realization that he doesn’t really want to work with Dracula anymore, and would like to move on with his life. However, Dracula being Dracula, he isn’t going to let him leave quietly. The film ends up crossing into several genres, including horror, comedy, and even the crime genre once Rebecca (Awkwafina) is introduced. The performances are very strong throughout the film. Hoult brings a lot of heart and humor to the performance of Renfield, humanizing him with relatable desires. His journey to get away from Dracula’s toxic influence is a surprisingly relatable one. Nicolas Cage is also delightful as Dracula, and there are some references to his previous excursion as a possible vampire in “Vampire’s Kiss.” Cage  is delightfully hammy while also being menacing. We also see strong performances from Awkwafina and Ben Schwartz. 

What surprised me the most about this movie is its surprising amount of heart and emotion. It can’t compare to something like “The Last of Us” or “Forrest Gump” in terms of the emotion, but I cared about these characters and I wanted to see them win. They weren’t the deepest characters in the world, but I was invested in their development and in seeing them triumph against the antagonists of the film. We even see some moments where we can pity the antagonist Teddy Lobo (Schwartz). 

The action in the film is slick and well directed. It’s very bloody and has a decent combination of practical and digital special effects along with well-crafted action set pieces that use their environments to their advantage. One thing  I enjoyed a lot about this movie is how it reimagines the “Dracula” mythos, but also stays true to the original story and even uses footage from the old “Dracula” film of the 1930s. 

“Renfield” is a good movie, and it’s one that I think we need right now in our franchise driven world. 

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