Renfield is all about Dracula’s long-suffering familiar, of course. But its biggest star is the megalomaniacal bloodsucker himself.
After a century of being Dracula’s unappreciated familiar, Robert Montague Renfield is eager to “take back his power” and break free, having finally acknowledged that the co-dependent relationship is abusive. Dracula, expectedly, doesn’t take well to this and goes out of his vampiric way to punish his servant. Things are made complicated when the local police and a ruthless mobster chance upon Renfield’s shady escapades.
I never thought I’ll one day say this. Even if you dislike the vampire genre, please watch Renfield for Nicholas Cage’s positively devilish depiction of Dracula.
Cage has a rather mixed reputation, doesn’t he? Honored for his earlier works but also responsible for some of the most tastelessly delirious moments in cinematic history. In this case, however, Cage’s excessive posturing, intersected with moments of absolute philosophical brilliance, gives birth to what is possibly the most entertaining Dracula ever.
His Count is no brooding, tormented Wallachian warlord who embraced darkness because of love. Neither is he the regal, bloodsucking aristocrat popularized by Sir Christopher Lee.
This hysterical version of the Prince of Darkness is the wildest bits of Nosferatu (Count Orlok), Stroker’s Dracula, Nandor the Relentless, and all other over-the-top depictions wrapped into one. Sinister one moment, savage the next, then ridiculously charming in the third. No pun intended, but he is literally the lifeblood of the show from start to end.
With such an amazing performance, it is easy for the rest of everything to be overshadowed, but here’s where the other elements of Renfield shine. Nicholas Hoult’s R.M. Renfield effortlessly steals your heart with his meek, puppyish charm, at the same time delivering the necessary counterweight to Dracula’s outrageous antics.
The plentiful gore and the deadpan, What We Do in the Shadows humor form the indulgent escapism that distracts you from the disturbing fact that this is actually a story about a serial killer accomplice trying to resign from his role.
If any, the only dissatisfaction that I have with the show is how the action tends to get over-enthusiastic and how Awkwafina’s Officer Quincy feels like a perfunctory addition. The latter, so that the story has feminine elements. (Which, BTW, Dracula ever so subtly mocks)
And oh, I like the ending, which at first impression, might seem lame. Without giving away spoilers, I just highlight what Renfield did to salvage everything invites the question of, did he take back the power OR did he take away all of the power?
With reference to the co-dependency theme, this creates food for thought.
Check out my other snappy movie reviews.