Movie Review: Renfield (2023) – Universal Blu-ray

June 25, 2023

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Ah Renfield (Nicholas Hoult, the X-Men series, Mad Max: Fury Road), that bug chomping, eternal servant of Dracula. So what is our man up to?

Well, mostly attending therapy group sessions where he tries to deal with his co-dependent, abusive relationship with his boss, the undying Lord of Darkness.

Speaking of those sessions, ol’ Renfield, takes it upon himself to get a lil’ revenge for one of his peers, Caitlyn ( Bess Rous) and decides to pay a visit to her shit of a boyfriend… a boyfriend who just stole a shit-ton of blow from the local crime family, The Lobos.

This lands him in the middle of a war between the police, spearheaded by Rebecca (Awkwafina) a traffic cop with lofty ambitions and a personal score to settle with the Lobo clan, and that dastardly crime family itself… which leads to precious little time to bring his desiccated boss back to full strength.

Will Renfield be able to ever find the peace of a normal existence, or will Drac-Attack take a big ol’ undead shit on our hero’s life for the rest of time?

Coming from a story provided by The Walking Dead/Invincible creator Robert Kirkman (with a screenplay provided by Ryan Ridley), director Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie) delivers a mother fuckin’ home run of legendary proportions with Renfield; a flick that’s funny, outrageously gory (for a mainstream studio release), action-packed, and at times shockingly heartfelt and sweet… who woulda thunk it, eh my cats n’ creeps?

The reason all of the above works so damn well is owed in huge part to an absolutely top-shelf cast! Hoult is amazing in the titular role in a performance that runs the gamut from tortured, to slap-stick, to full on action movie hero (when he eats a bug or two to power up his Dracula-given preternatural abilities) all with equal skill and charm, and Awkwafina is a great match as she brings a ton of warmth and humor to her role as well… but you and I know damn well that we came into this to bear witness to the legend himself, Nicholas Cage absolutely own the role of Dracula… and boy-fucking-howdy does he ever do exactly that with a performance that is Lugosi on acid; a delightfully psychotronic blend of rock star, demon, and bickering spouse!

Before I continue on the ol’ positivity parade, let me continue on that Lugosi vein (pun always and eternally intended) and offer up the highest possible praise yours cruelly can monstrously muster for one particular sequence in this film that pays pitch-perfect homage to 1931’s Bela Lugosi starring masterpiece Dracula. If you don’t crack a grin on your face 666 miles wide over this brilliance I’d be amazed (also look for an appearance of the font from that film’s one sheet during the credits)…

What may surprise many of you (especially if you didn’t read any of the above) is the amount of bloody meat there is for Gore-hounds to chew on with this one! In a studio meeting that definitely ended with “Look, we’re fucking getting an R no matter what, just go apeshit” it was decided that this flick would be absolutely up to it’s coffin lid with ripped off limbs, smashed heads, spraying blood, and many more depictions of bodily harm that are generally not the rage these days… and it is absolutely awesome!

Special mention must also be given to the lighting design in many sequences… there is so much eye-popping colored gels utilized that it actually (in my mind) made the corpse of Mario Bava sit up and say “Damn girl, you are fine as fuck!”… and if that isn’t glowing praise, I don’t know what is!

Since I started the last paragraph with the word “special”, and I’m absolutely ass with segues, it’s time to talk about the special features present on this Blu-ray/DVD combo release from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment!

Kicking off the bonus material is a collection of hilarious extended scenes and alternate takes, followed by a piece discussing Cage’s portrayal of Dracula (with words from the man himself).

Next comes featurettes focusing on a glimpse behind-the-scenes of the film’s production, the make-up effects utilized to transform Cage into our fav fang-banger, a look at the the creation of the picture’s gore effects, the stunt work on display in the film, and the choreography of a deleted sequence (featured in the “extended scenes” section of the bonus material) respectively.

Also included is an audio commentary featuring the film’s producer, Samantha Nisenboim, screenwriter Ridley, and various other members of the production’s crew who provide a lively discussion of how the film came to be.

One of the funniest, goriest, downright enjoyable horror comedies I’ve seen in a while, Renfield is a wicked winner in my beastly book, and I urge your arcane asses to see it post-haste!



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