Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Nicolas Cage, Awkwafina,
Ben Schwartz, Adrian Martinez, Jenna Kanell,
Shohreh Aghdashloo, Bess Rous
Director: Chris McKay
Renfield is stuffed full of tedious, repetitive, exploding heads and bodies plus cliché-driven sequences in a co-dependency support group, with the titular character being gutted twice within five minutes. Nicolas Hoult, cast as the eponymous star Robert Montague Renfield, introduces himself by his full name, repeatedly, to everyone – just one example of how this appalling vampire action comedy’s screenplay is deeply uncomfortable to deal with. The basic premise of Renfield is that Dracula’s loyal and occasionally tortured servant and ‘familiar’ is finally ready to embark on his own life experience, after decades in servitude. It gets worse however. Director Chris McKay has an out of control cast at his disposal which includes a massively hammed-up Nicolas Cage as Dracula and a one-dimensional Nicholas Hoult as his simpering lackey - and the unwieldy script comprehensively knackers the entire enterprise, almost from the start. Following a moderately inspired opening that riffs on the classic Universal monster films of the past and injects it with a distinctly modern sensibility, McKay’s film then suddenly focusses on a bossy traffic cop (Awkwafina) who has spent her entire career going up against a mob family led by Ben Schwartz and Shohreh Aghdashloo. There are so many distractions on offer, from the aforementioned exploding heads and bodies to a mafia subplot that only seems to exist as a way to pull in still more heads and bodies - to explode, of course.
After Renfield realises he’s in the midst of a toxic relationship with the Count, he sets about disentangling himself from his vampiric clutches. As part of Renfield’s move into becoming an actual person, he becomes tangled up with the New Orleans cop Rebecca, who is a rebel on the local force, intent on bringing down the Lobo crime group after they killed her father for refusing to sell out and thus adopt corruption. As Rebecca and Renfield get closer — although the pair lack any form of romantic chemistry whatsoever— their various nemeses begin a predictably blood-spattered battle royale. The entire film is an ill-conceived and poorly executed spin on what could have been a tasty new diversion on the Dracula tale.