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'Renfield' reviews hail a gory good time elevated by Nicolas Cage's scene-chewing Dracula

Renfield arrives on the big screen Friday, April 14.

By Josh Weiss
Nicolas Cage and Nicholas Hoult in Renfield (2023)

Nicolas Cage steals the show as Count Dracula in Renfield?! We're shocked! Shocked, we say! Well, not really.

Critics can't get enough of Cage's appropriately over-the-top interpretation of the classic bloodsucker in director Chris McKay's upcoming horror-action-comedy. The film — which exclusively opens on the big screen Friday, April 14 — apparently earns its R-rating and then some with enough grotesque depravity to disgust the founders of Elite Hunting. Didn't expect a Hostel reference in this article, did you?

Nicholas Hoult, meanwhile, is garnering plenty of praise for delivering the emotional everyman goods as Dracula's fed-up assistant, who decides to call it quits after nearly a century of servitude. Supported by a sympathetic New Orleans cop named Rebecca (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' Awkwafina), Renfield works to free himself from his fanged employer with delightfully violent results.

RELATED: Nicolas Cage takes a bite out of claims he went full Dracula method actor shooting 'Renfield'

Written by Ryan Ridley (who based the screenplay on an original story from producer Robert Kirkman), the movie also stars Ben Schwartz (Sonic the Hedgehog), James Moses (Queenpins), and Adrian Martinez (Stumptown) round out the cast. McKay produced the Universal release alongside David Alpert, Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst. Samantha Nisenboim is an executive producer.

Sink your fangs into the reviews below...

"Is it fun to see Nicolas Cage go full vampire for the first time since Vampire’s Kiss, the low-budget 1988 indie in which he essentially launched himself as the Method maniac of operatic kitsch kabuki overacting? Yes, it is ... The makeup and costumes, like Dracula’s black velvet smoking jacket with the dark glitter lapels, liberate Cage to give an outlandish but layered performance, one that draws on the entire hallowed history of big-screen Draculas." -Owen Gleiberman, Variety

"When your primary complaint about a movie is that it could have been longer, that’s a pretty good sign. Renfield knows exactly what it wants to achieve and does so effectively, anchored by its lead performances and some very enjoyable super-violent action sequences which earn its R rating honestly. (Just the opening sequence, which brilliantly invokes the 1931 Dracula with a meta twist, is worth the price of your ticket.) The Dark Universe might be dead, but if that means the Renfield Cinematic Universe can live, that’s good news indeed." -Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence of Sound

"McKay isn’t shying away from blood and guts with Renfield (most of it caused by the titular familiar himself), and though it’s played for laughs, the John Wick-level destruction is taken to the next level with gallons on gallons of gore, creating some truly kickass fight scenes when combined with the film’s excellent choice in music. (Lizzo and My Chemical Romance in the same film? My Gen Z heart is singing.)" -Maggie Boccella, Collider

"Renfield is a great example of how Universal could resurrect its Dark Universe. Take tangential characters or questions audiences have wondered about and find a way to actually explore them. Hoult and Cage do so well in the roles and the script does its best to find a new way into modernizing Stoker’s incomparable novel. These are the children of the night worth following!" -Kristen Lopez, TheWrap

"A dark action-comedy rather than a spooky gothic picture, Renfield is pitched to please long-time Dracula fans while reminding new generations that this Count was the first and arguably best monster villain in Hollywood horror history." -Kim Newman, Empire

"Renfield is definitely a movie that earns its R-rating and distinction as a horror comedy, with the filmmakers unafraid to let things get deliriously gory, from widespread dismemberment to Dracula's bloodthirsty diet. Nicolas Cage, in particular, gets a lot to play with here, alternatively sinister and scary as Dracula while taking the time for a few jokes without compromising the sheer evil of his character." -Sam Stone, Comic Book Resources

"Throwing action, romance, comedy, and horror into a blender, Renfield is a movie where a gesture of romance can (and does) consist of dismembering a man while riding his corpse to the ground. With a story and script developed respectively by The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman and screenwriter Ryan Ridley, the pivots to these various tones is done smartly. Blazing through a relatively short running time, energy is always present and moving the story and set pieces along in brisk fashion." -Mike Reyes, CinemaBlend

"Renfield is a creature feature where the creature is truly fucking featured. Dracula eats up the screen every time he appears ... Hoult’s Renfield seems to wilt in the presence of his boss, it’s clear as the movie goes on that this is part of the point of it — and Hoult’s performance as a sympathetic post-breakup sad man delivers the grounding element necessary amid all of this camp." -Linda Codega, Gizmodo

"In Cage’s hands, Dracula is the perfect marriage between the rock star and the jilted lover. The film’s highlight is a scene where Dracula confronts Renfield in the latter’s apartment after Renfield has decided to cut ties with his master. Dracula is mocking and furious, but Cage plays the scene with the manic energy of someone not emotionally mature enough to process their sense of betrayal. On the one hand, it is vintage Cage; on the other hand, it brings Dracula into a contemporary setting without affording him any softness or humanity." -Matthew Monagle, The Playlist

"It is very important to note just how gory this movie is. Not in the sense that you’re going to throw up, necessarily, but Renfield is very bloody. It is a Dracula movie. You should be prepared for blood in some capacity. But seeing Renfield rip a man’s arms off and throw them into the chest cavity of another man is really something else. The gore and violence works given the overall tone of the film, though." -Rachel Leishman, The Mary Sue

"Hoult brings something unique to this movie. He is absolutely brutal when he needs to be, and delivers some of the most grotesque yet hilarious moments. That said, he is also the heart of the film. Even though he is a horrible person at times, you can’t help but feel bad for him. You will just want to reach out and give him a hug." -Tessa Smith, Mama's Geeky

Renfield arrives on the big screen Friday, April 14. You can pick up tickets right now on Fandango.

Need to satisfy your vampire craving right now? Check out SYFY's Reginald the Vampire, which is set to return later this year for a second season. Or head on over to Peacock, where Vampire Academy is now in session!