The Stream: A plot that is random and unfocused as well as a bad Awkwafina performance.
The Big Screen: Nicolas Cage as Dracula and very gory action sequences.
The Final Bill: Nicolas Cage can’t save a movie that’s all over the place and not funny.– Trip Fontaine
Director: Chris McKay
Writers: Ryan Ridley based on an original idea by Robert Kirkman
Stars: Nicholas Hoult, Nicolas Cage, Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Brandon Scott Jones
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Rating: R for bloody violence, some gore, language throughout and some drug use
Runtime: 1 hour 27 minutes
Production Companies: Universal Pictures, Skybound Entertainment
Platform: In theaters April 14, 2023
Notable Trailers: Hypnotic, Joy Ride, Fool’s Paradise, Strays, Evil Dead Rise, The Last Voyage of the Demeter
Hey, Streamers! April is a weird month for movies. It’s like the studios decide to put out the stuff that’s not good enough for the summer but not bad enough to dump in January. That’s how we get a horror comedy like Renfield starring Nicolas Cage as Dracula in the middle of April. Weren’t you clamoring for a raucous, blood-soaked comedy from the perspective of Dracula’s put-upon assistant, Renfield? You weren’t. Well, here it is anyway.
From the director of The Lego Batman Movie and The Tomorrow War, Renfield focuses on Dracula’s personal assistant, Renfield (Nicholas Hoult), who is having a crisis of conscience due to years and years satisfying his master’s thirst for blood. Renfield attends group meetings for people in co-dependent relationships to find suitable prey for Dracula, but he also gains the courage to separate himself from his own toxic relationship. Renfield also inexplicably gets caught up with a good police officer’s (Awkwafina) investigation to take down a crime family. Somehow these two storylines converge in a bloody mess. Blood sucking hijinks ensue.
Here’s the thing: you came to Renfield to see Nicolas Cage ham it up as Dracula. You do get that. For me, there was both too Nic Cage and too little Nic Cage. Look, the movie is called Renfield, so the focus is on Renfield, but Dracula does get the opportunity to tear people apart and suck blood. Nic Cage is clearly having a good time. The make-up is very good. There is a lot of blood and some almost cartoonish action sequences, but it is entertaining.
I’ll also say the interplay between Cage and Nicholas Hoult is kind of funny. They have some chuckle-worthy moments, mostly due to Cage talking through his Dracula dentures.
On the other hand, the actual plot of the movie is all over the place. The random focus on this crime family in New Orleans is not very interesting and takes away from the Renfield/Dracula dynamic. It feels like two movies got mashed together, and not in a good way. I don’t know what Awkwafina is doing in this movie. I think she’s supposed to be funny, but she’s not. She’s just playing herself as a cop but trying way too hard and ends up being just annoying.
Ultimately, Renfield is a confusing movie. It is not as funny as it should be, and there are too many distractions from the central relationship in the movie, Renfield and Dracula. The action sequences are fun and bloody, but there isn’t enough Dracula. On the other hand, there is too much Awkwafina for some unknown reason. I’d skip this in the theater – it’s just a single popped kernel. Wait for it to play on TBS.