By John Mulderig | OSV News
NEW YORK (OSV News) – Although the humor showcased in the satire “Renfield” (Universal) can be characterized as of the one-joke variety, this send-up of the horror genre does include some potentially diverting comic material. Yet whatever enjoyment the movie might theoretically evoke is soon washed away in a flood of gore.
Nicholas Hoult plays the titular character, the longtime but increasingly disaffected assistant to Count Dracula (Nicolas Cage, having a field day). As he seeks to break free from his servitude, Renfield gets mixed up with Teddy Lobo (Ben Schwartz), the cowardly scion of a New Orleans crime family headed by Teddy’s fearsome mom, Bellafrancesca (Shohreh Aghdashloo).
Among the few Crescent City cops willing to oppose the Lobos is courageous police officer Rebecca (Awkwafina), who quickly becomes Renfield’s love interest. Having been endowed with a lesser version of Dracula’s supernatural powers, Renfield is able to help Rebecca battle the bad guys while she, in turn, aids him in his struggle for liberation.
As part of his rebellion against his boss, Renfield attends a therapy group for those in more conventional unhealthy relationships. This allows screenwriter Ryan Ridley to riff on the humorous comparison between the two situations as well as on the self-help movement as a whole.
Both Renfield’s struggle and Dracula’s predations, however, involve sickeningly over-the-top mayhem played for shock laughs. Extras are maimed, dismembered and decapitated with a gusto that precludes endorsement of director Chris McKay’s sometimes campy romp for any age group.
The film contains excessive bloody violence, frequent gruesome sights, drug use, a couple of profanities, a few milder oaths, pervasive rough language, numerous crude terms and an obscene gesture. The OSV News classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
John Mulderig is media reviewer for OSV News. Follow him on Twitter @JohnMulderig1.