In Renfield, by Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie, The Tomorrow War), Nicolas Cage is Count Dracula, while Nicolas Hoult plays the title character, his servant. While the first, cruel and thirsty, finds himself weakened by a ritual aimed at eliminating him, the second is forced to kill to allow him to regain his power.

As in Bram Stoker’s famous novel, R. M. Renfield is totally enslaved by the Earl. As in the novel, he eats insects in order to acquire their vital forces, while Dracula allows him to obtain superhuman abilities (small difference, Stoker’s Renfield was zoophagous long before meeting Dracula, that of the film n ingests small animals only to exercise its powers). As in the novel, Renfield becomes attached to a woman (here the talented actress and comedian Akwafina, in the role of the policewoman Rebecca Quincy) who gives him the courage to rebel against his master.

Finally, as in the novel, Renfield is still torn between his submission and his desire for emancipation. It is also around this inner heartbreak that the plot of the film develops. A well-crafted plot, which captures interest and keeps it, thanks to humor and horror, rather well dosed throughout.

Let’s be honest: At first glance, Renfield didn’t seem to have much potential. We didn’t understand where between the ridiculous and the supernatural would fit this film starring two actors we like. We were seriously considering the possibility of a failure or, at least, of a disappointing film where the humor would not catch up with the overly cumbersome absurdity.

Viewing Renfield was more of a pleasant surprise. We laughed, we jumped, we even closed our eyes smiling a few times to avoid the sight of an exploding head or arms being ripped off. Because yes, Renfield is a particularly gory film. The violence of Count Dracula, but especially that shown by Renfield, is portrayed with bloody artifices that are completely exaggerated. It must be said that the servant of the count acquires supernatural powers which allow him the most atrocious dismemberments.

Sensitive souls abstain, therefore. The good news is that all this blood is not being spilled for nothing. By attacking the bad guys, by saving the good guys, Renfield discovers himself as a hero rather than just a miserable servant with a tormented conscience. We even get a certain comic effect from all these horror scenes, sometimes so gory that they are funny. Humor, moreover, is the great strength of this feature film, which did not fail to amuse us. There’s a life lesson in it, and the relationship between Renfield and his master, Dracula, offers several parallels to toxic “real life” relationships. But, above all, Chris McKay’s film is entertaining. It will delight those who love when blood (and organs) fuse.