Friday, April 14, 2023

R(eally).M(eh). Renfield

Renfield, which puts Dracula's (Nicolas Cage) long-suffering familiar R. M. Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) in the starring role, is a clever concept and about half a good movie. Playing on themes of codependency, unhealthy relationships, and being stuck with the worst boss ever, the film gives us Renfield in a support group, struggling with Dracula's demands, and beginning to find the courage to stick up for himself after meeting a local cop (Awkwafina) in a police force so corrupt it makes the GCPD look respectable.

When the plot stays focused on Hoult or a Cage so over-the-top you wonder how he avoids constantly hitting his head on the boom mic, there's enjoyment to be had. Cage is certainly having fun here, and Hoult gives Renfield enough heart to allow us to root for his tortured soul. And director Chris McKay provides plenty of bloody action sequences involving both characters. However, the other half of the film involving the good cop in the corrupt police force attempting to take down a local crime syndicate falls flat.

That's not to say Awkwafina is bad here, she does what she can with what she's given to work with, including a sister (Camille Chen) who feels like a larger role that was significantly cut and doesn't really make much sense except to service the plot. Sadly, other than reacting to Renfield there isn't much for her here. I do wish the film could have found more time to spend with the support group, however that's more from enjoying the actors than their characters. 

Renfield isn't a bad film, but it's not necessarily worth your time either. You can see potential in Renfield, but if you've seen the trailer you've already seen 95% of all its best moments. Fans of Dracula or the stars may get some enjoyment here, but you won't miss a thing by waiting to see this one on home video or cable.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Renfield
  • IMDb: link

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