After abandoning his family and becoming Dracula’s servant for a hundred years, Renfield starts to have some regrets. Overworked and underappreciated, he begins to see his vampire master in a new light.
When he stumbles upon a support group for people in toxic relationships, he realizes that Dracula has been using him in an abusive relationship. But try as he might to leave, Dracula continues to keep him in a stranglehold both mentally and physically.
One night when gathering new victims for his master, Renfield gets caught in the middle of a war between two drug gangs. When Renfield puts a definitive and bloody end to the conflict using powers borrowed from his master, he gets the attention of Tedward Lobo, son of the local reigning drug lord.
As Ted attempts to execute Renfield for intervening, local cop Rebecca Quincy steps in and bravely stands up to the spoiled drug dealer.
Seeing Rebecca take a stand against evil inspires Renfield to leave Dracula once and for all. But the evil vampire won’t let his longtime servant leave easily.
In fact, he sees a new opportunity to step out of the shadows and take over the modern world using an army of new servants. Can Renfield stop his evil plan?
I rather enjoyed Renfield and was very much in the mood to see a horror comedy. It’s bloody, funny, and looks like it was a whole lot of fun to make. That energy is apparent on the screen and lets it be a crowd pleaser worth seeing with a vocal audience.
The cast from top to bottom is entertaining. Nicholas Hoult is great in anything he does and his performance as Renfield is no exception. Much like his zombie in Warm Bodies, he’s a monster you come to love as he grows a heart and conscience. Hoult handles the martial arts like a pro, but his emotional scenes with his toxic boss are equally engaging.
Nicolas Cage is also fun as Dracula. You can tell he’s having a blast playing the classic movie monster, especially as he reenacts Bela Lugosi’s legendary performance.
Cage is unapologetically evil with no redeeming qualities whatsoever and he seems to love every minute of it. He’s sarcastic, vicious, narcissistic, and the embodiment of every toxic boss anybody has had to deal with.
While I think Awkwafina is best taken in small doses, she is pretty fun as the lone good cop Rebecca. She’s also surprisingly adept at the action scenes as she is pulled into some pretty spectacular gun battles and holds her own. Her quick wit and sharp comebacks also generate a lot of laughs.
Ben Schwartz is also memorable as Ted Lobo, the spoiled and entitled son of the drug kingpin. He’s annoying, whiny, and a perfect foil to Renfield.
All of the supporting cast have moments to shine as well. From the support group members to background cops, if someone appears on the screen they more than likely will have a line that will give you a chuckle.
The other noteworthy aspect of Renfield is the bloody violence. My wife used to jokingly tell our kids that if they didn’t knock off doing something she’d rip their arms off and beat them with the bloody stumps. Renfield literally does that with the bad guys.
Combine hardcore fight scenes with horror and you get Renfield‘s style of violence. There were probably a thousand people in charge of animating CG blood in this film. Whether it’s a bad guy getting his face ripped off or a drug dealer being decapitated, the gore generates laughs.
Hardcore horror fans might criticize Renfield for having some doses of camp in it. Parts of it have a little bit of Army of Darkness vibes. Other parts feel a little Tim Burtonesque. I didn’t have a problem with it and thought it was funny, but I will be interested to see how the general horror community accepts or rejects it.
Renfield is a fun popcorn flick that I recommend seeing with friends. If you’re in the mood for an ultra-violent horror comedy, this will fit the bill.
RENFIELD REVIEW SCORE: 7.5 OUT OF 10
Universal Pictures will release Renfield on Friday, March 17, 2023. The film is rated R for bloody violence, some gore, language throughout and some drug use.
Scott Chitwood has been writing about film online since 1995. He is a co-founder of TheForce.Net, IGN Movies, and the Houston Film Critics Society. Scott wrote for ComingSoon until joining Vital Thrills in 2020. Scott is also the publisher of Red 5 Comics and lives in Houston, TX.