By Jaimz Dillman
From all the trailers leading up to its release, RENFIELD looked like a fun ride with Nicholas Hoult and Nic Cage in the leading roles. Unfortunately, it seems all the fun was compressed into those teasers leaving the full-length film lacking.
Hoult, in the titular role, plays the put-upon servant to Dracula (Cage) and is pretty convincing as a tortured soul. He attends a support group for those in toxic codependent relationships and it’s there he finds the courage to finally leave his master.
What follows is a few layers of subplots involving the town’s mob family (Ben Schwartz and Shohreh Aghdashloo, a cop (Awkwafina) and her mission to avenge her father’s death at their hands, her FBI agent sister (Camille Chen), a suspiciously unhelpful police force, and buckets upon buckets of blood. Get all that?
We find out more about the powers Renfield has gained as the vampire’s familiar and what he’s gone through during his years of service. Extreme kill scenes and fighting ensue and the action amps up quite a bit. I love blood and fire but this is definitely not for the faint of heart. And even through all this, my cohorts and I found it all… kinda boring?
Cage chews scenes- as he has a reputation for doing- and doesn’t quite get us to the point of hating him as a villain thus not really making us care too much about poor suffering Renfield. I’ve loved Hoult from his previous roles in About a Boy and The Great, but- as endearing as he tried to make this part- the mark was missed for me.
The violence was over the top but not in a cheeky horror movie way. More like a gratuitous Tarantino action film on speed. And, usually in films like this, you walk away with one or two fun zingers repeated amongst friends but there really wasn’t anything that hit home. Even Renfield’s final shot of the climax fell flat and kinda meh.
I wouldn’t say the ending message of being “good enough” would apply to this movie. As much as we were looking forward to an adventure, we were left wanting a better payoff. And maybe a support group of our own.
RENFIELD is now playing in theaters everywhere.