The Marvel Cinematic Universe has shown the film industry the significance of connecting various movies into a coherent storyline. However, this approach has been largely ignored by others. Universal Pictures was among the first to follow this formula with their “Dark Universe” featuring classic monsters. Unfortunately, it didn’t work as a shared universe, but it can still make a great standalone project. “Renfield” is an example of this. In the following review, we will evaluate the film’s success.
Director: Chris McKay
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Nicolas Hoult, Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz
Theatrical release: TBA
Year of release: 2023
The movie tells the story of the relationship between Dracula (Nicolas Cage) and his servant R.M. Renfield (Nicolas Hoult). They have been together for many years, and thanks to Dracula, Renfield has gained access to the secrets of eternal life. However, over time, the servant realizes that his relationship with his master is abnormal. When they move to New Orleans together, Renfield decides to finally put an end to it all. But doing so is not as simple as it seems.
In recent years, Nicolas Cage has been starring in films where the main focus is on the protagonist or their relationships with a specific character. This structure was also used in “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” and “Renfield” is no exception to Cage’s new career trajectory.
The film’s premise was conceived by Robert Kirkman, known for comics such as “The Walking Dead” and “Invincible.” Kirkman is full of imagination and unconventional ideas, which are evident in almost every scene, even though he only served as a producer and didn’t write the screenplay for “Renfield.”
For viewers, this means that a noticeable level of brutality is combined with somewhat absurd humor. However, in the context of an unusual perspective on Dracula, everything looks appropriate. Even when absolute nonsense is unfolding on the screen, there are no additional complaints about the script – everything is skillfully combined with each other.
The main reason to watch “Renfield” in theaters is the acting of Cage and Gault. Their characters are charismatic on their own, and together they shine on screen. Their toxic relationships and attempts to end them are the main drivers of the local story.
Problems arise when the screenplay tries to tell more than just a strange story of the relationship between two equally strange people. And there are plenty of such moments in the film. You have a love story, side plots, and attempts to show a grotesque crime drama.
But all of this doesn’t work and detracts from the main essence of the movie. Instead of trying to figure themselves and each other out, the characters waste time on peculiar “additional tasks” – and in those moments, “Renfield” greatly suffers. For a movie whose main advantage is its main characters, the relationships of these main characters are too often pushed to the background.
“Renfield” consistently maintains a good level of humor. It’s very dark and gloomy, and at times almost absurd. But at the same time, it always touches on issues of human relationships that are understandable to everyone.
“Renfield” is a genuinely funny movie that never falls into outright foolishness.
The mood during the viewing is reminiscent of VHS-era movies or films made specifically for TV. And that probably best describes “Renfield” as a whole.
It’s a well-thought-out and heartfelt movie, but still somewhat simplistic. Outside of its main characters, it lacks originality, and interesting ideas get lost in a stream of not-so-attractive moments.
Pros: Great performances by Nicholas Cage and Nicholas Hoult; interesting concept at the heart of the plot; unconventional portrayal of toxic co-dependent relationships; original take on the Dracula character; funny comedic moments.
Cons: The plot often gets sidetracked from the film’s main strengths; overloaded with unnecessary and uninteresting scenes; lacks other interesting characters besides Renfield and Dracula.
Conclusion: “Renfield” is a good movie, but only if you’re willing to view the world through a somewhat grounded lens. There are moments that drag and uninteresting choices made, but the core concept is too strong to overlook.