The story of Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) begins long ago. After a failed business trip abroad Renfield becomes the servant of the one and only Count Dracula (Nicholas Cage). Mind you being indentured to the dark one does have its perks, insert awesome Dracula powers here, yet they do come with a life of servitude, the occasional request for a couple of nuns, a happy couple or a bus load of cheerleaders and the need to devour something creepy crawly any time you want to get your vampire on.
Renfield is lost and alone in a world full of people. He spends what little free time he has at local self-help meetings where he is trying to learn how to feel better about himself and his poor relationship he has with his “boss.” Of course, listening to all these people talk about the low lives each has to deal with in their own way is not only helping him with Dracula but also giving him ideas on who to go out, meet and invite back for supper. This macabre dance is necessary so that Renfield can feed Dracula and help him return to his full power.
All is going gruesomely well until one fateful night while out on the hunt Renfield runs into Officer Rebecca Quincy (Awkwafina). It is Rebecca’s defiance and bravery in the face of danger that lights a fire within Renfield and sets him on a path towards what he hopes could be a better future. Rebecca is on her own path trying to dismantle a local crime family known for its ties to the death of her father.
Renfield stars one of the biggest actors from my younger years in Nicholas Cage. His manic state is one well suited for the over the top yet charismatic Dracula as he channels a little bit of the suave of Bela Legosi to offset all those crazy Nick Cage memes you’ve seen over the years. Whenever on-screen Cage demands your attention, be it in an over-the-top stylised action sequence or simply asking for a certain meal as his face is falling away each moment is memorable.
Hoult portrays Renfield as a bit of a proper English lad that you’d be mistaken had been pulled straight from a period drama. His relationship with Dracula has soured due mainly to Dracula’s thirst for power and all the damning things he has been forced to do in service to his master. His want to better himself is what pushes him to find only bad people for Dracula to feed on in is in his own way the lesser of the two evils.
Renfield loses its way slightly in it doesn’t know which genre it wants to fit into. Billed as a horror comedy there was very little comedy moments and even less horror moments. There was however some over the top action set pieces to rival any action movie out there. Filled with some of the most creative deaths I’ve seen in recent years and blood splatter for days that only the most jaded of action fans won’t be laughing away to themselves at the sheer absurdity on screen. Awkwafina shows she has the moves to back up the mouth to with some impressive moments I have not seen from her before.
While Awkwafina is known for her comedy she struggles a little in that department often reduced to crude one liners and moments that feel a little forced, her best comes when bouncing off someone else or in rebuttal.
Renfield is at its best a decent action flick where Nick Cage has been let loose to portray Dracula in the over the top and yet somehow perfectly suited style that only he can pull of, at its worse it is a slight miss step that doesn’t utilise its greatest asset to the full potential it could have. The story while strong enough wasn’t enough to grab hold of me with some characters forgettable and any compassion I should have felt for Renfield quickly dissipating early on. Then again, maybe I am just heartless.
Renfield is worth the watch for the action sequences alone and the special moments whenever Dracula is on screen.
Renfield is in cinemas now.