There is no other way to say it: Renfield is a bloody fun time. One of the bloodiest, funniest movies of the year; it is an absolute joy.
Set in the modern day, Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) has moved with his master, Dracula (Nicolas Cage), to New Orleans to help him recover from a particularly bad sunburn that left him charred to a crisp. Renfield’s duties include (but are not limited to) gathering people for Dracula to eat in order for him to heal. However, after centuries of this work, Renfield feels guilty about it, yet unable to quit – classic codependence. Renfield attends a self-help group for people caught in similar, abusive relationships. Not only does he work on himself here, but he uses the group to find potential “meals” for his boss. Not the other victims but their abusers.
During one of these DoorDashes, Renfield gets mixed up with a trio of losers who stole some drugs and are now in the crosshairs of the drug dealers who want them dead. Renfield, being a familiar, has some of Dracula’s strength (enhanced by the eating of insects), so he makes short work of most of them.
What you end up with are three stories that are well-entwined, working smoothly with one another and maintaining their own pace. You have Renfield and Dracula’s dysfunctional relationship and Renfield’s attempts to escape; you have the Lobo drug clan, led by the ruthless Ella (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and her delightfully obnoxious nepo-son Teddy (Ben Schwartz); and you have Rebecca Quincy (Awkwafina), a local traffic cop who desperately wants to take down the Lobo clan for killing her hero cop father.
This movie has everything: action, horror, blood, and comedy. It even has a few moments of honest emotion that felt real and didn’t make me want to laugh uncomfortably (like most emotional scenes tend to make me want to do). Director Chris McKay did a great job with this film, especially the action scenes. The fight scenes were well-choreographed and well-shot – you could actually see what was going on. Bonus points for action go to Renfield for ripping off a pair of arms and using them like nunchucks.
And the blood… oh my gosh, the blood. Buckets and buckets of blood, soaking everything. It was quite impressive, really. The above-mentioned arm-chucks. A face getting ripped off. Several beheadings. One guy getting kicked so hard you actually see him explode blood out the top and fecal matter out the bottom. It was so over-the-top the blood and horror was, itself, comical.
Acting, across the board, was top-notch. Nicolas Cage… I mean, come on… he’s Nic Cage. He goes full, crazy Cage here, and it is glorious. Nicholas Hoult is sweet and endearing as Renfield. He comes across as the tortured protagonist. Awkwafina as Rebecca is delightful. I love Awkwafina, but to be honest, she doesn’t bring anything new or different to this role. Ben Schwartz as Teddy Lobo is hilariously manic and completely unhinged. Shohreh Aghdashloo, as Ella, is sleek, sophisticated, and dripping with hostility.
Renfield is crammed with clever bits. From the opening, which puts Nic Cage’s Dracula and Nicholas Hoult’s Renfield in place of other Draculas from classic films (most notably, Tod Browning’s 1931 classic Dracula), to casting Dracula as a narcissistic boss (then discovering that he is actually way, way worse), the comedy is intelligent, yet light.
A feast for all the senses (though I wouldn’t watch this while you are eating if you have a delicate stomach – it is that bloody), sit back, relax, and laugh while some nameless thugs get beaten to bloody mush or enjoy Dracula snarl his way through his plans to dominate the world.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 9 equates to “Excellent.” Entertainment that reaches this level is at the top of its type. The gold standard that every creator aims to reach.