The co-dependent support group is another element of Renfield that falls flat. The trailers made this sequence feel goofy and excessively comedic. In actuality, the tone is much more grounded, which is good. However, I couldn’t get myself overly excited about these moments compared to the rest of the film, especially when it leans into using affirmations to save the day. There’s also a silly tone to the evil, particularly from Tedward. The comedy has a way of hindering the menace and deadly nature of the Lobo drug cartel. When the story tries to be severe or threatening, the comedy interferes. The danger literally gets its legs cut out from under it.
Nic Cage as Dracula and the over-the-top comic book violence is good and probably the film’s salvation. Cage is at his Cagey-ist, giving the role his all. If the part belonged to lesser actors, I’d call this performance over-the-top, but here it’s just Cage being Cage. I got exactly what I expected when I heard he was playing Dracula. The key is Cage’s commitment to the role. He embraces the campy count and holds nothing back. He is evil personified.
“[Cage] embraces the campy count and holds nothing back.”
The violence is gory and bloody reminiscent of some of my favorite zombie video games. Chest bursting, arm/leg dismemberments, full-on bloody decapitations. They are all on that big beautiful screen, and Hoult acts as the bridge between the bloody and boring. He gives a fine performance as Renfield, serving as the glue that holds the film together. He never breaks character, and I think that’s why the good overcomes the bad.
Renfield is a good movie that squanders its potential to be great. However, I believe audiences will walk away with mixed feelings in the end. There will be those who’ll love it despite its fault and those who hate it with a passion because of them.
"…squanders its potential to be great."