Gory, hilarious and well cast, RENFIELD is a fast, adult homage to classic Movie Monsters and Tarantino style violence, played for laughs.
Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max Fury Road) is perfect as long-suffering Renfield, fed up with serving every whim of Count Dracula (a full-tilt Nicolas Cage).
Attending a self-help group for co-dependent relationships, Renfield realizes he's ready to change his unending life.
His therapy group is littered with great actors, including the session leader played by Brandon Scott Jones, who fans of the CBS show "Ghosts" know as Issac. He's hilarious.
While Renfield plans on how to escape the demands of his undead boss, their current home city of New Orleans is under the thumb of the Lobo family crime operation and their lethal matriarch played by the menacing Shohreh Aghdashloo (24, House of Sand and Fog). Her son Tedward is FAR less capable and played for huge laughs by Ben Schwartz (Parks and Rec). One of Tedward's biggest foes is beat cop Rebecca, embodied perfectly by Awkwafina. Her profane exasperation and cutting line delivery damn near steals the movie.
When Rebecca, Tedward and Renfield end up in the same bar, a massive faceoff kicks in. Any student of Dracula knows that Renfield gains powers when he eats bugs. But you've never seen anything in vampire lore quite like the powers his arachnid snacks deliver. It's "Kill Bill" and "John Wick" mixed with flying vampire moves. I laughed a LOT.
James Moses Black (Five Days at Memorial) also gets big laughs as Police Captain Browning.
Looming above all these characters is Nic Cage having the most fun he's had in years as Dracula. Some terrific early scenes insert Cage and Hoult into the original 1932 black & white classic Universal monster movie. They show a deft touch and they juxtapose nicely with the madness of modern day New Orleans. Cage has said in interviews that it was a life long dream to play the Count, and he relishes every bite.
To say Cage's Dracula is a demanding boss is a vast understatement. Watching Hoult try to free himself and become a modern man sets up plenty of horrific fish-out-of-water moments.
Any fans of "The Lego Batman Movie" or all those late night, pop culture nerd skewing episodes of "Robot Chicken" will see telltale signs of Director Chris McKay's style. He's a great fit for the material and unleashes all the comic talents of Awkwafina, Schwartz, Cage and Hoult along with about a thousand gallons of blood that sprays in every direction.
Marco Beltrami (Knowing, World War Z) delivers a music score that manages to fill the modern night clubs and those black and white scenes in Transylvania perfectly.
Any fans of 1985's "Fright Night" (count me in) watch for William Ragsdale, the young lead in that movie, as the old priest facing off against Dracula in an early scene!
Earning less than a third of its $65 million cost in it's first month in theaters, the Count did not find a mainstream audience. It deserved better!
RENFIELD is pure bloody popcorn fun, with enough severed limbs, gushing arteries and flying f-bombs for a dozen vampire flicks. It's never scary, but it's funny as hell and gets a B-.