Sometimes when parts of a movie work really well, the parts that don’t tend to stick out like a sore thumb.
Take “Renfield,” for example, which has a great cast and a fun premise, but then skimps on storytelling to the point that the movie’s strengths don’t have anything to cling to.
The setup reimagines the relationship between Count Dracula and his servant Renfield as a toxic, codependent boss-employee relationship.
Nicholas Cage plays Dracula to the hilt with all of his glorious Nick-Cage-ness as he strikes the perfect tone between horror and comedy.
Renfield is played with a goofy sweetness by Nicholas Hoult who finds himself at a moral crossroads after a century-plus as Dracula’s servant.
Dracula and Renfield find themselves lurking in modern-day New Orleans as Renfield is tasked with finding victims for a convalescing Dracula. Even though he is still technically a human, Renfield is able to use some of Dracula’s power to gain superhuman strength and agility whenever he eats insects.
Renfield tries his best to offer up bad guys and lowlifes to his boss, but when he meets Rebecca (Awkwafina) a cop fighting against a corrupt crime family, Renfield decides he might be better off leaving Dracula behind. Of course, Dracula is not a fan of that plan.
All of this is just silly fun and while the gore and violence are over the top, it’s cartoony to the point that it feels like a horror movie via Looney Tunes.
Director Chris McKay also throws in some fun flourishes, like telling Renfield’s backstory with the look and feel of a 1930s Universal monster movie.
Cage, Hoult and Awkwafina are great in “Renfield,” so much so that without them this movie would just flame out into nothingness. Enough of the jokes land to make this an enjoyable time at the movies even though, from a plot standpoint, there’s just not much meat on the bones.
“Renfield” has just enough going for it to wind up on the positive side of the ledger, even though it almost occasionally gets overwhelmed by its weaknesses.
“Renfield” is rated R for bloody violence, some gore, language throughout and some drug use.