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Renfield (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

For the blood-drenched, campy, comedy-horror Renfield, director Chris McKay and co-writers Ryan Ridley, Robert Kirkman, and Ava Tramer take the popular vampire story and turns it on its head.

Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road) plays Renfield, the ‘familiar’ or henchman to Dracula (Nicolas Cage, Leaving Las Vegas). After many years of serving Dracula’s needs, being institutionalized, and having to hunt for Dracula’s prey, Renfield is having an identity crisis. He has been going to group meetings for people trying to get out of toxic relationships. He wants desperately to break the hold Dracula has over him.

A turning point comes when Renfield steps in to rescue a police officer (Awkwafina) who is confronting a local New Orleans crime family, the Lobo gang. His superpower, which kicks in when he eats bugs, allows him to overpower a room full of gangsters and save her. The two are instantly smitten with each other and she calls him a hero, which lights the spark in him to finally break away from Dracula.

Hoult and Awkwafina have wonderful chemistry together and keep the film moving along breezily even as the gore starts to really flood the screen with buckets of blood. It is Cage and his exaggerated performance that steals the film, however. He has far-less screen time than the others, but this is one case where Cage’s penchant for over-emoting works to his advantage.

From the opening Renfield gets off to a great start as it begins in black and white and alludes to the 1931 film Dracula with Bela Lugosi. Despite Cage’s wavering fake accent, his performance is both campy and creepy. Visually, the film is detailed, particular in Dracula’s lair, but the visual effects are a mix of purposely bad and throwback practical effects that evoke the cult horror films of Sam Raimi such as Evil Dead 2.

  • Nicolas Cage as Dracula and Nicholas Hoult as Renfield in Renfield, directed by Chris McKay.
  • Nicholas Hoult as Renfield in Renfield, directed by Chris McKay.
  • Nicolas Cage as Dracula and Nicholas Hoult as Renfield in Renfield, directed by Chris McKay.
  • (from left) Chris (Adrian Martinez) and Rebecca (Awkwafina) in Renfield, directed by Chris McKay.
  • Nicolas Cage as Dracula in Renfield, directed by Chris McKay.
  • Ben Schwartz as Tedward Lobo in Renfield, directed by Chris McKay.
  • Renfield (2023)
  • Renfield DVD (Universal)
  • Renfield DVD (Universal)
  • Renfield Blu-ray Combo (Universal)
  • Renfield Blu-ray Combo (Universal)

The Video

Renfield was shot on Panavision Millennium DXL2 and Red V-Raptor cameras with Panavision C-Series lenses in Redcode RAW 8K. In the United States, the film is available digitally in 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision HDR. Universal has only given it a Blu-ray release on disc (for now) that comes in a 2.39:1 AVC 1080p encodement.

There is absolutely nothing to complain about in this transfer. It is clean, crisp, and cinematic. Shadows are well delineated, and the color palette looks very aesthetically pleasing, with plenty of neon and pastel colors, lights, and vermillion blood that would standout even more in HDR.

The Audio

Renfield comes to Blu-ray with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix which was downmixed to 7.1 on my system which is setup for an Atmos/DTS:X 7.4.2.  The low end is deep and extends well into the lower range for a full and resounding floor to the action. There are many moments in the film with sounds moved through the surround channels, which also carry a lush amount of atmospherics.

The Supplements

Universal includes a really good selection of alternate takes, deleted scenes, and ‘making-of’ type segments.

  • Movies Anywhere Digital Code
  • DVD with Feature Film and Bonus Features
  • Feature Commentary with Producer Samantha Nisenboim, Screenwriter Ryan Ridley, and Crew
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (1080p; 00:17:31):
    • Open
    • Lobo Compound & Murder Room
    • Renfield’s Dance!
    • Mark Gives Renfield Advice
    • Newscaster
    • Lobo Gang Meet Dracula
    • Coda Kill
    • Apartment Fight
  • Alternate Takes (1080p; 00:03:18)
  • Dracula Uncaged (1080p; 00:04:48) – Nicolas Cage’s unhinged performance as Dracula is the feature here.
  • Monsters & Men: Behind the Scenes of Renfield (1080p; 00:12:35)
  • Stages of Rejuvenation (1080p; 00:06:15)
  • Flesh & Blood (1080p; 00:05:23) – A rundown of the gory visual effects.
  • Fighting Dirty (1080p; 00:06:12)
  • The Making of a Deleted Scene: Renfield’s Dance (1080p; 00:03:34)

The Final Assessment

Renfield is bizarre, zany, and campy blood-soaked fun that goes back to the roots of Universal’s monster B-movies. It successfully reworks the tropes of the Dracula vampire film and offers good popcorn lunacy. The Blu-ray release is reference quality home theater entertainment. One wishes Universal released the 4K disc to see the eye candy this film can be in all of its glory.


Renfield is out on Blu-ray Combo June 6, 2023, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.


  • Rating Certificate: R (for bloody violence, some gore, language throughout and some drug use)
  • Studios & Distributors: Universal Pictures | Skybound Entertainment | Peacock | Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Director: Chris McKay
  • Written By: Ryan Ridley | Robert Kirkman | Ava Tramer
  • Run Time: 93 Mins.
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 7.1
  • Secondary Audio: Spanish DTS-HD HR 7.1 | French DTS 5.1 | Descriptive Video Service
  • Subtitles: English SDH | Spanish | French
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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes For the blood-drenched, campy, comedy-horror Renfield, director Chris McKay and co-writers Ryan Ridley, Robert Kirkman, and Ava Tramer take the popular vampire story and turns it on its head. Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road) plays Renfield, the ‘familiar’ or...Renfield (Blu-ray Review)