Over the decades, countless movies, plays, books, comics, video games, and television shows have depicted vampires in various mythos, which often include differences in behaviors, abilities, and motivations. While there have been many vampires, none have ever achieved the fabled status of Dracula. He has been the template ever since Stoker’s book and the classic original film, as well as subsequent appearances. In the new film “Renfield,” audiences are introduced to Renfield (Nicholas Holt), who recounts his past as an ambitious lawyer. He ends up serving Dracula (Nicolas Cage) as a Familiar when his original intention was to close a real estate deal. After his Master is injured after another attempt by Vampire Hunters, Renfield relocates Dracula to New Orleans. He looks to find suitable prey to help his master return to full power.
This, in turn, leads Renfield to a self-help group. He plans to help the poor souls there by using their tormentors as prey for his boss, which he hopes will, in some way, eliminate the burden that has built over the decades from his servitude. This plan goes horribly wrong when he attempts to subdue an abusive individual, and his group lands Renfield on the radar as not only an eager police officer named Rebecca (Awkwafina) but also a drug lord named Edward (Ben Schwartz). Mixing humor, action, and gore aplenty, Renfield must also deal with his rising self-help motivations. He looks to stand up to his boss once and for all and have his needs heard and respected, which naturally does not sit well with Dracula.
What follows is an amusing, chaotic, and gory adventure that, while at times inconsistent and meandering with the story, still finds enough ways to entertain.
Cage hams it up to new levels in his portrayal of Dracula. He is literally chewing the scenery in every scene in which he is featured, and it is one of his most enjoyable performances in recent years.
Hoult, Awkwafina, and the supporting cast work well. And while the film does get more than a bit loose with the story and gaps in logic, even for a film of this type, it still manages to work. Dracula talks of a big plan for world domination, but we get little more than lip service, which would have helped to make this version of Dracula a more defined character.
The focus is more on comedic action than horror, and it is clear that the cast seemed to be having a great time with their roles. So as long as you are willing to overlook issues with the plot, you may find “Renfield” one of the more enjoyable comedic outings of the year.
3.5 stars out of 5