Renfield Postert Art

Get Physical: Renfield

There are few characters who have managed to remain more prevalent in pop culture than Dracula. Whether portrayed as a cold-blooded killer, a romanticized bad boy, or a Muppet teaching kids to count on Sesame Street, there is a mysticism about the character that we cannot shake. In Chris McKay’s Renfield (read Rachel’s review), an action heavy horror comedy, Dracula takes on yet another form, that of an abusive boss.

As anyone who has spent anytime in the workforce can attest, enduring a horrible boss can feel as one’s life force is being sucked out on a daily basis. Their blatant misuse of power and prolonged emotional exploitation should be obvious to everyone, but more often than not it can go unnoticed for quite a while. Similar to Dracula, who can use manipulation to lure in victims, some of the worst bosses present themselves as roses when they are all thorns.

While their toxicity can make for a less than appealing work environment in real life, and induce PTSD in their employees, bad bosses often make for entertaining films.

Cinema has plenty of memorable bad bosses – including Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, Gary Cole’s Bill Lumbergh in Office Space, Alastair Sim’s Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, to name a few – who have put their employees through wringer. What makes these often crass and calculated individuals so appealing on screen is that they make their perfect villains. They are individuals who we can gleefully live vicariously through while simultaneously wanting to see their downfall.


In Renfield, based on a story by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, it is not Dracula (Nicolas Cage) but his lone employee, the titular Renfield (Nicholas Hoult), who is the focal point we are meant to align with. A loyal servant for an unappreciative master, Renfield’s job of providing food (i.e. humans) for the vampire to feed on has taken its toll. The constant belligerence he endures has not only caused him to lose sight of himself, but pushed him to seek advice from a self-help group.

Drowning in the pool of toxicity that comes with working for Dracula, it is only when Renfield attempts to swim in a different direction that he gets a glimpse of a potential happier future. One where he can have his own place and a potential romantic love life with a local cop (Awkwafina). While the film is full of bloody action set pieces, more often played for laughs than scares, it is the boss/employee dynamics that make the film’s enjoyably outlandish moments work.

One would think that a creature who has lived thousands of years would pick up people skills along the way, but that has never been Dracula’s style. Though it is doubtful we will see the character at the centre of a reboot of The Office, there is something appealing to the idea of framing classic monsters within the context of the trials and tribulations of the workplace relationships. Frankly, if a werewolf can be a high school basketball star in Teen Wolf, it should also have to take a spin as a shift supervisor at a supermarket. Imagine The Invisible Man in an office setting, secretly monitoring employees and eavesdropping in on the gossip at the water cooler.

As farfetched as these ideas may seem, the well of stories one can tell about horrible bosses is far from dry. One may not be able to deliver a stake to the heart of a toxic boss in real life, however, it is fun to see the bloodsuckers get their just deserts in a film…even if for a few hours.


The Reinfield Blu-ray hit stores July 11.

Renfield Blu-ray

Bonus Features: Hilarious Deleted and Extended Scenes, Alternate Takes, Dracula UnCaged, Monsters & Men: Behind the Scenes of Renfield, Stages of Rejuvenation, Flesh & Blood, Fighting Dirty, The Making of a Deleted Scene: Renfield’s Dance, Feature Commentary