Renfield is a brutal bloody bonanza of horror, hilarity, and heart.
Working for a terrible, unearthly, supernaturally evil boss is something many can relate to. For some reason, any ounce of power seems to amplify a person’s innate douchiness or enlarge the inner browneye to monstrous levels. Renfield explores that to the umph degree, and tells the story of the boss that sucks more than anyone in history, Count Dracula, and his broken down, burnt out, and endlessly overworked familiar, R.M. Renfield. While the film is supernatural, bloody, gory, and fictional, it does an incredible job of showcasing the themes of a toxic work relationship and everyone’s parts in them.
Toxic, Gaslighting, Blood-Sucking, M%#@% F(@!_%!!!
My favorite part of the film is how perfectly it captures toxic work relationships and environments. Renfield may go very hard with the blood and guts, but compared to the guttural pain, suffering, and emotion being dependant and stuck in a toxic work situation, it is apt if not slightly downplaying it. If you have a terrible boss, you connection you will develop with this film is uncanny. While Dracula is torturing his familiar with ungodly acts, you will likely remember that time you got screwed out of overtime or the meeting that should have been an email, or the absolute pointlessness of no longer being able to work from home.
However, it is not a one-sided affair. The film also showcases how the subordinate contributes and enables the bull$#!+ to continue. Renfield is clearly a bit of a victim, but he learns how he became the victim and allowed his quality of life to continually be diminished. This does not justify the manipulation, gaslighting, abuse, or other toxic behaviors of Dracula, but it does properly allocate everyone’s responsibility, and eventually enable Renfield to self-actualize, take responsibility, and potentially retake control of his life. It’s extremely relatable, informative, heartwarming, and possibly inspiring. You’ll have to watch it yourself to find out.
The Comically Carcinogenic Cauldron
Renfield by no means should be taken seriously. It is an overtly outrageous slaughtering of people with comedically excessive gore. It is mostly an action-comedy with a slight splattering of horror. Just a thoroughly entertaining time led by a cast that looks like it is having the best time. Nic Cage as Dracula is perfection. Cage goes full Cage and nefariously delivers a somehow grounded performance. As a nearly all-powerful immortal being, his behavior seems appropriate. Dracula is a perfect outlet for Cage to chew the scenery and eat up every bit of the other-worldly shenanigans only The Prince of Darkness can encounter.
Nic Cage alone is worth the ticket price, but Nicholas Hoult makes it an absolute steal. Hoult actually showcases tremendous rage as Renfield. He plays a broken-down man who is regaining control of his life, an action hero, a rom-com lead, an underling, a fish out of water, and probably a few more archetypes. He seamlessly switches between them and effortlessly merges them together throughout the entire film. While the film can be reduced to being schlocky or a big-budget B-movie, Hoult deserves a lot of recognition for his extensive and comprehensive performance.
Supporting our dysfunctional boss and assistant are Akwafina and Ben Schwartz. Awkwafina, as Officer Rebecca, admirably performs in the straight role and is the anchor to all of the supernatural elements. Her comedic timing and delivery are on point and graciously contrast and bring a comedic focus to the otherworldly aspects of the movie. Schwartz magnifies the fiction as he is cartoonishly heightening every situation Tedward Lobo is a part of. Schwartz fully utilizes his comedic improv to make Lobo THE WORST! And it’s the best.
So Much Blood It Might Flatline
While I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and full-heartedly think it brilliantly showcases toxic professional relationships, this movie might not be for everyone. It’s not a straight-up B-movie, it’s also not a dedicated action, comedy, or horror. It’s a unique story that might appeal to a slightly more than niche group. There’s a bit too much of the action, gore, and comedy, and also not quite enough story and stakes. It’s a very entertaining movie that can seen to have a wide and deeper meaning or point. But it’s mostly just a bloody fun time.
A Bloody Fun Time
Renfield is a bloody fun time at the movies. It may be a bit too unfocused for some, but its core focus on a dysfunctional professional relationship is one that will resonate and connect with the masses. The use of extreme gore, violence, and wild comedy perfectly captures the primal feeling of being trapped by and breaking out of a toxic and abusive relationship. The translation of the outrageous symbolism may be a bit much, but for the jaded and bitter, it is the perfect over-the-top combination of reliability, strong cast, and simple but impactful story that makes it a quiet favorite that someone might not seek but never skip if it’s on.
For being a brutal bloody bonanza of horror, hilarity, and heart, plus the sophisticated embodiment of toxic workplace relationships, I give Renfield an 8/10.
Renfield releases in theaters on April 14, 2023.
Release Date: April 14, 2023
Director: Chris McKay
Screenplay By: Ryan Ridley, based on an original idea by Robert Kirkman
Producers: Robert Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst, Sean Furst, Chris McKay
Executive Producers: Samantha Nisenboim
Genre: Horror Comedy
Runtime: 93 minutes
Post Credits: No
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Nicolas Cage, Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz, Adrian Martinez and Shohreh Aghdashloo
In this modern monster tale of Dracula’s loyal servant, Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men franchise) stars as Renfield, the tortured aide to history’s most narcissistic boss, Dracula (Oscar® winner Nicolas Cage). Renfield is forced to procure his master’s prey and do his every bidding, no matter how debased. But now, after centuries of servitude, Renfield is ready to see if there’s a life outside the shadow of The Prince of Darkness. If only he can figure out how to end his codependency.
What do you think about Renfield? Are you ready for Nic Cage to go full Nic Cage? Would you eat a bug for superpowers? Let us know your thoughts and reactions on social media!