Rating: 2 out of 5.

Renfeield is a modern update of an old tale. This version is based on characters from Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, but it also relies on the visual look of the 1931 movie starring Bela Lugosi. Nicholas Hoult is R. M. Renfield, the obedient servant of Count Dracula. Nicolas Cage embodies the legendary vampire from Transylvania and Renfield’s demanding boss. The premise is that Renfield has had enough of procuring his master’s prey and doing his every bidding. It’s been centuries, but he’s ready to break free from this life of servitude.

The initial concept is creative, and given the two thespians involved, I was excited to see this. The duo has moved from Transylvania to New Orleans. Renfield attends meetings there to help deal with his codependent relationship with a cruel boss. I was enjoying this at first. Unfortunately, an auspicious beginning is unnecessarily complicated by a major detour involving a mafia-style mob family pushing drugs into the city. The Lobo family is an organized crime empire in New Orleans that controls everyone in the police department. Awkwafina portrays a traffic cop named Rebecca. She may be belligerent and irritable, but at least she is not on the take. Although Renfield and Rebecca have zero chemistry, their interactions inexplicably lead to a blossoming romance. Oh, and when Renfield eats bugs (spiders, ants, etc.), he unlocks the ability to fight like Bruce Lee. Nothing makes sense.

The screenplay — written by Ryan Ridley (Cartoon Network TV series Rick and Morty) from a story by Robert Kirkman (AMC TV series The Walking Dead) — begins with a rather clever setup. Renfield plans to use his group therapy sessions to identify abusive people. He’ll hunt less virtuous souls for Dracula so he feels less guilty about their deaths. That’s funny. I appreciated those bits, but the developments vacillated from light comedy to extreme brutality. The schizophrenic shift between the two is awkward.

The bloodshed includes savage casualties with stomachs sliced open, entrails spilling out, human limbs being ripped off, and liquid blood spurting out like a volcano. I could go on, but you get the idea. The excessive gore is meant to be hilarious because it’s so outrageous. Trust that the violence is somewhat amusing in small doses. When a character uses severed arms as weapons, it is laughable. But after a while, the sheer amount of carnage is oppressive and overbearing. I didn’t relish the gratuitous displays. A good introduction is undone as the humor fades, and a generic plot with routine fights takes over. Renfield is indeed horrifying. However, it’s the gap between idea and execution that is most appalling.


5 Responses to “Renfield”

  1. I enjoyed the two Nicolas’ performances, however, I agree, the story let them down. Could’ve been much better as a PG campier version. I’ll give this a 3 ⭐️


  2. Hm, I’ll definitely consider the chaotic violence as a factor in whether I see this soon or not. I was kind of into the idea, though the trailers didn’t really hook me, just more the idea that Nic Cage has wanted to play Dracula for his entire career I think and now, well here he is. Consider me very much on the fence for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I realize the violence is probably more of an issue for me. I enjoyed the interactions between Dracula and Renfield but then it went off on this uninteresting tangent about organized crime and corrupt police. That was the most egregious problem.


      • I’ve read a few articles which had an issue with the blood and gore as well so you’re not alone. 😀. I can handle gore especially in a silly movie like this but it sounds like the good stuff gets unnecessarily distracted


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