Renfield (2023) Review

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renfield 2023 review 23041304
Renfield (2023)
Editors Choice

Renfield is the horror comedy I did not know I needed using the Dracula lore to bring a fresh and gore-filled exploration of toxic relationships. Directed by Chris McKay and featuring Nicolas Cage as Count Dracula, the film finds its footing in exploring the relationship between Dracula and his loyal servant, Renfield, played by Nicholas Hoult. With its unique blend of humour, bloodshed, and captivating performances, Renfield is a devilishly entertaining experience.

While Renfield is based on classic Dracula lore, it never takes the source material too seriously, using it more as a springboard to dive into the story it wants to tell.  McKay has created a unique and compelling plot that revolves around Renfield and his struggles with loyalty and his desire for a normal life. He longs to be free of Dracula’s control but is constantly drawn back into the darkness. This provides an interesting dynamic that is both comedic and tragic, creating a multi-dimensional narrative.

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Nicolas Cage‘s portrayal of Dracula is a bombastic display of his signature eccentricities and grandiose acting style. He manages to find the right balance between humour and horror, creating a Dracula that is both terrifying and hilarious. His scenes with Nicholas Hoult are the backbone of the film, as their chemistry as master and servant creates some of the most memorable moments in the movie. This is Cage unchained, and while I might be skeptical of that in other movies, it works to a fantastic degree in Renfield.

“Renfield is the horror comedy I did not know I needed using the Dracula lore to bring a fresh and gore-filled exploration of toxic relationships.”

Nicholas Hoult, known for his previous roles in films like Warm Bodies and Mad Max: Fury Road, delivers a fantastic performance as Renfield, the tortured servant of Dracula. He brings a mix of vulnerability and dry humour to the character that makes him instantly likeable and relatable. His journey throughout the movie, as he tries to find a way to escape Dracula’s grasp, is both gripping and full of unexpected twists. Although he weaves a tale in which he has done some truly terrible things, you can’t help but root for his struggles and his desire to be more than he is.

Awkwafina’s (Paradise Hills) inclusion in the film as a cop out for revenge against the city’s leading crime family adds a fresh element to the classic vampire story. Her presence serves as a perfect contrast to Renfield’s more traditional take on vampirism, and her interactions with Hoult’s character provide some of the film’s funniest moments. Awkwafina’s comedic timing and ability to inject her own personality into her roles make Sophie a standout character in the film. Hoult’s dry wit mixed with Awkwafina’s over-the-top delivery works incredibly well, and I hope these two find their way into more movies together in the future.

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The visual elements of Renfield are striking, with a mix of practical and CGI effects used to bring the vampire world to life. The gore is plentiful and satisfying for horror fans, while the action sequences are well-choreographed and exciting. The film’s unique blend of comedy, horror, and action sets it apart from other adaptations of the Dracula story. While it does push the CGI elements a bit more than I would have liked, the tone it all sets feels like a cross between Evil Dead and Reservoir Dogs, and I am here for it.

“With its unique blend of humour, bloodshed, and captivating performances, Renfield is a devilishly entertaining experience.”

Renfield’s script is filled with snappy, witty dialogue that feels fresh and modern. The humour is well-balanced with the darker elements of the story, providing levity at just the right moments. The pacing of the movie is excellent, as the narrative never feels rushed or slow, making for an engaging and enjoyable viewing experience. The Dracula lore is expertly woven throughout the story, giving enough to make it understandable while never letting it hold back a good moment.

Renfield is the exploration of the complexities of loyalty, and the human desire for freedom stands at the forefront of the film and gives a fantastic twist on the Dragula mythos. Hoult’s portrayal of Renfield as a man trapped in a cycle of servitude, yet yearning for a life beyond the shadows, creates a character that is easy to empathize with. The movie delves into the complexities of his relationship with Dracula, as well as the impact his servitude has on his own life.

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Even though it may be filled with some of the best moments I have seen in a comedy this year, Renfield doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of the Dracula story and manages to infuse them with a sense of humour and levity that makes it a delightful watch. The balance between the horror, comedy, and drama elements is skillfully handled, ensuring that the film maintains a cohesive tone throughout. With the comedic timing of everyone on the cast, there are few minutes or gags that don’t hit, even if the comedy is not particularly deep.

Chris McKay’s direction is commendable, as he successfully brings together a talented cast and a compelling story to create a movie that feels both fresh and familiar. He manages to pay homage to the classic Dracula tale while injecting his own unique vision and style into the film. Renfield’s exploration of the themes of loyalty, servitude, and the quest for freedom makes for a thought-provoking viewing experience that is as heartbreaking as it is relatable. 

With its inventive take on the classic Dracula story, superb performances, and a perfect blend of horror, comedy, and drama, Renfield is a film that demands attention and delivers a thoroughly entertaining experience. It is a rare example of a movie that manages to reinvent a well-known narrative while remaining faithful to its source material, creating a fresh and captivating journey into the world of vampires. The strong performances, engaging storyline, and clever mix of horror and comedy make it a must-see for both fans of horror and those looking for a fresh and entertaining take on the vampire genre. 

Final Thoughts

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