Renfield: Dracula Sucks Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Renfield was a project that sounded interesting and kept getting more and more interesting with casting, production details and then a pretty dynamite little trailer. And for the most part, the film absolutely delivered. Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver to enough people, being one of the more high profile unsuccessful films of 2023. Regardless, the Nicolas Cage plays Dracula flick has arrived on Blu-ray (June 6th) and you can either own the delightful little film you saw in the theater or check it out for the first time. It comes equipped with a 7.1 track and a pretty impressive host of extras for a film that bombed. If you’re interested in grabbing it now, don’t hesitate any further and order a copy using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review.



Nicholas Hoult stars as Renfield, the tortured aide to history’s most narcissistic boss: Dracula (Nicolas Cage). For centuries, Renfield has slavishly served Dracula by procuring his master’s prey and doing his every bidding, no matter how debased. But now, Renfield is ready to look for a new life outside the shadow of The Prince of Darkness, if only he can figure out how to end the toxic, co-dependent relationship…

Renfield is the sort of fun, wacky take on the classic Universal Monsters that feels like we should see more of from these age old tales and characters. While the film breaks new ground, it certainly explores the thematics and chops of a vampire’s familiar and pays tribute to what came before with a loving but not distracting knowledge. There are little nods, lines and references throughout, but they play very casually and naturally into the story as opposed to saying “pat us on the back for knowing this, please. And yourself as well – you’ve earned this.” No, everyone here loves the material but also has much fun putting their own spin and additions to it.

The film leans on an action slant just as much as its comedy. While drenched in a lot of practical and CG gore, the film eagerly is putting to use a lot of Hong Kong action and kung fu inspiration for the screen (A Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires nod?). There are super powers on display as well as plenty of big stunts and cool, fast paced fights to boot. If you’re familiar with the type of films its learning from, I don’t think you’ll be wowed, but you’ll certainly appreciate what they are going for an putting to use. And to boot, plenty of it is effective and a some decently impressive between the punch, kick and jump fighting to the gunfire ballet on display.

Oh right. We are here for Nicolas Cage as Dracula. He’s every bit as good as you’d imagine here. Cage drinks up his role and puts forth his total commitment which makes him the guy we enjoy so dearly. While its hinted that this is the Lugosi iteration, there is a fresh take with some borrowed scraps of Christopher Lee as well as Cage saying his father was an influence as well. And that’s not all, he has loads of fun when he’s under heavy practical makeup as well. He knows his environment and he is also a chameleon to his costars as well. As much as a goof as he appears to many character who meet him, to watch him gain power and rise to the occasion is a nifty little feat within this movie.

One glaring weak spot in the film is the editing. Renfield is a swift 93 minute movie, but it feels like it could have breathed a little bit more. Many of the choices here don’t feel 100% fluid or natural to whatever this film set out to be. It reeks of someone at the studio not feeling or believing in the movie and asking it to be trimmed as much as humanly possible to get it to 90 minutes and be able to add as many showtimes as they can. There are some little threads that oddly go no where (There’s a police officer in the opening that gets drenched in cocaine…and that’s it. There are no effects, just “haha, that’s a lot of drug powder.”) and many moments that feel abrupt or getting somewhere really fast. It is sort of telling too, as this Blu-ray reveals there was a big musical number they shot for the film and ultimately never used (It even has a Making Of featurette).

Its a shame more people didn’t check out Renfield. Sure, its merely a solid movie, but its the sort of silly spin on an IP I would definitely enjoy seeing more of. The film and studio probably cashed its chips on some things that don’t necessarily sell beyond the Film Twitter social media hub bub (Nicolas Cage as Dracula, Nicholas Hoult as a leading man) and embracing some of the goofiness. Nonetheless, its exists and feels self enclosed rather than franchise starting which is refreshing. Definitely seek it out if you’re a classic horror nut.


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are provided by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, not the Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: MPEG4-AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Bummer, Renfield only gets to display its fangs on standard Blu-ray. Nonetheless, it features a sharp, clear image that radiates some very detailed information. It flourishes in some nice color and good contrasting black levels to make for about as top tier of an image on this format you could hope for.

Depth:  Depth of field is rock solid with some good push back in the interior scenes and a low key scale displayed appropriately. Movements are smooth and natural with no issues of distortion during rapid action sequences.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and rich and really accentuate the picture with strong shadows, great nighttime sequences and darkly lit rooms. Information like textures, patterns and fine details against dark surfaces holds up and showcases well. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite lovely and really pop here. There are a lot of neon signs and displays that glow quite well contrasted against the night. Garments worn here have a rich, bold look to them. Reds, blues and greens resonate exceedingly well here.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and remains consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features, textures and make-up effects hold up to much scrutiny and can be discernible from any reasonable distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean


Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 7.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Video Service

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: Renfield features a pretty nice little 7.1 track here that really races around the room. Between super-powered characters wooshing around and camera’s swinging, this is a pretty engaging and loud track that is a fully 360 degree experience. There is a also some good layering and depth on display in this balanced track that hits the right points with the vocals, effects and score. Each gets a chance to shine and never steps on the other toes.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer hits with good power in vibing the gunshots, explosions, crashes, glass shattering and unearthly sounds.

Surround Sound Presentation: As mentioned, the room is a real raucous experience. Beyond some terrific ambiance to build environments, it showcases unique sounds, travel and offscreen sounds from the rear and side channels with some good precision and loudness to feel it.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp


Renfield: Dracula Sucks Edition comes with the standard DVD edition and a redeemable digital code.

Audio Commentary

  • with Producer Samantha Nisenboim, Screenwriter Ryan Ridley, and Crew

Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD, 17:31)

Alternate Takes (HD, 3:18) 

Dracula UnCaged (HD, 4:48) – This is about the master going over his craft. Nicolas Cage has so much there for us to chew on in his approach and inspirations. Included are some on set footage as well as input from others in the cast and crew.

Monsters & Men: Behind the Scenes of RENFIELD (HD, 12:25) “This is brave. This is unique. This is original.” says Cage about his first reaction to reading the script. A quick run through about the genesis of the project, casting and such. Its deceptively swift, but the people involved have all good, insightful things to say and not just fluff and telling us what the story is.

Stages of Rejuvenation (HD, 6:15) – This piece has a look at Dracula’s makeup and prosthetics to showcase different stages of him as he becomes his normal self.

Flesh & Blood (HD, 5:25) – This piece goes over the gore in the movie.

Fighting Dirty (HD, 6:12) – And this one takes a look at the fight sequences, their choreography, preparation and such.

The Making of a Deleted Scene: Renfield’s Dance! (HD, 3:34) – This goes over the production behind an elaborate scene that did not make it to the final cut.


Renfield is a fun little horror/action/comedy character piece that sees some delightful interpretations on classic Universal horror mythos and characters. Universal foregoes 4K for a standard Blu-ray that hits all the right notes in its audio and video presentation. The extras are a lot more than one would expect for film that sank at the box office, but are very welcome. Definitely pick this one up when it hits a nice discounted price.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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