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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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CineHawk review: “Renfield” 

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GRAPHIC: GABRIELLA GUZZARDO ’23 /THE HAWK

Directed and produced by Chris McKay from a screenplay by Ryan Ridley based on a story concept by Robert Kirkman, “Renfield” is a modern and comedic adaptation of Dracula’s iconic servant as he tries to gain his independence. Starring Nicholas Hoult, Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz, Adrian Martinez, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Nicolas Cage, the film is currently playing exclusively in theaters.

Nearly a century after being resurrected as Count Dracula’s eternal attendant, R.M. Renfield, played by Hoult, continues dutifully providing his master with a steady supply of victims. To ensure he does not harm innocent beings, Renfield attends a codependency support group in order to track down abusers who deserve comeuppance. However, as he internalizes the lessons of the group, in addition to a chance encounter with a loud-mouthed police officer, played by Awkwafina, Renfield is inspired to finally stand up to his abuser and reclaim his life.

If there is one reason to see “Renfield,” it is, without question, the uncanny spectacle of seeing Dracula, cinema’s most iconic vampire, brought to life by Cage. A unique talent who always gives everything in his performances, Cage effortlessly balances theatrical silliness and vicious horror, sometimes in the same scene. Dracula steals every scene he appears in, the best of which might be the opening sequence where Cage and Hoult faithfully recreate scenes from the 1931 “Dracula.”

Playing off Cage’s over-the-top performance, Hoult brings charm and vulnerability to Renfield, making for an engaging protagonist with an all too relatable struggle. Right beside him is the hilarious Awkwafina, portraying Rebecca who is far more down-to-Earth and assertive than the titular character. Both actors are a pleasure to watch individually and have terrific chemistry when together. If Rebecca has any “flaw,” it is her sheer combat skill and lethality that seem out of place compared to her relatively mundane backstory, but genre fans will overlook this in favor of enjoying ridiculously fun and bloody action sequences.

McKay’s direction is superb, balancing black comedy with shockingly vicious horror when it is time for Dracula to let loose. Ridley’s script, as charming as it can be, is unfortunately held back by the sheer subtlety of its “co-dependent relationship” allegory that will likely challenge the patience of some audience members.

Overall, despite a flawed script, “Renfield” is a must-watch horror comedy for macabre action and an unforgettable Dracula performance.

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