Bram Stoker’s famed novel Dracula has been the subject of more books, theatre plays, movie adaptations, and television shows than we care to count. It’s almost impossible to believe a contemporary title could add fresh perspective to the timeless tale of the Prince of Darkness.
And yet, the Chris McKay-directed gory comedy Renfield does precisely that. By switching the focus from the count himself to his bug-loving servant, the movie is hilariously unhinged, entertaining, and surprisingly endearing.
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Robert Montague Renfield’s (as played by Nicholas Hoult) journey starts at a support group meeting for people trying to leave abusive relationships. After centuries of looking after Count Dracula’s (Nicolas Cage in the role of a lifetime) needs and bringing him innocent (and not-so-innocent) victims for dinner, poor Renfield is questioning how healthy his relationship with the Dark Prince truly is. Sure, he gets superpowers by eating bugs and has near immortality, but Renfield is growing tired of all the carnage that seems to follow his master everywhere they go.
Along with the friends at the support group, Renfield’s resolve to start a new life away from Dracula grows stronger when he meets New Orleans’s only honest cop, Rebecca (Awkwafina). She lost her father at the hands of crime bosses Teddy (Ben Schwartz) and his mother, Bella-Francesca Lobo (Shohreh Aghdashloo), leaving her desperate to bring them to justice. Unfortunately for Rebecca, the Lobos have the entire police force in their pocket.
As for Dracula himself, he’s not exactly thrilled at the prospect of letting his slave walk away. After all, who else is going to bring him a bus full of cheerleaders for dinner while helping him take over the world?
Renfield promises a twisted yet comedic take on the tired vampire trope, and that’s precisely what it delivers. It pays homage to the source material without taking itself too seriously. Where the writing lacks coherence, the movie makes up for it with extremely committed performances from the talented cast ensemble.
Known for brilliant and over-the-top performances, Nic Cage was born to play Dracula. It’s hard to believe he wasn’t offered the role before. Cage plays the Prince of Darkness as terrifyingly monstrous as hilariously unhinged.
For his part, Hoult offers a convincing performance as the vampire’s familiar. He gives Renfield’s character vulnerability without excusing his violent, bug-eating nature. The film’s best scenes are when both actors showcase this bizarre vampire/familiar dynamic their characters share.
The story itself is slightly over-complicated. We meet too many characters to keep count (even if most of them are only on-screen to be ripped apart for our horror gratification), and the mobster family as a secondary antagonist takes too much focus away from the main narrative. As brilliant as Shohreh Aghdashloo is as the head of a crime empire, her character is ultimately disposable and of no real consequence to Renfield’s hero journey.
Renfield is an entertaining movie worth streaming for Nic Cage as Dracula alone. Despite some issues with the plot, the film delivers as a horror comedy with plenty of gore, and it looks like the cast had way too much fun making it.
Where can you watch Renfield in the UAE and Saudi Arabia?
Renfield is now streaming on OSN+ in the UAE. Subscribing to OSN+ is AED 35 per month, but keep looking for yearly deals that drop the pricing considerably. There is also a free seven-day trial to decide if you’d like to be a paying subscriber.