Renfield (2023): Reclaiming Power in Toxic Relationships
An uplifting scene about achieving higher self-esteem as someone with co-dependent tendencies
Renfield is a horror action comedy (woah) about reclaiming your power in a toxic relationship. I don’t typically watch horror flicks but decided to watch Renfield because I like Nicholas Hoult (Newness, Tolkien) and Nicholas Cage is a true thespian.
My favorite scenes include Renfield (Hoult) confiding in his cop friend, Rebecca (Awkwafina), about his desire to be a good man — despite his toxic relationship with Dracula (Cage) who demands that Renfield brings him the blood of innocent people. I also enjoyed the scenes with Renfield attending Co-Dependents Anonymous meetings where he acquires the support and knowledge needed to stand up to Dracula.
A narcissist will take full advantage of a co-dependent’s low self-esteem, but you’re the one with the real power. And all you gotta do is take it back.
Dracula is a metaphor for the toxic people who suck us dry in life but we’re afraid to leave because of low self-esteem and co-dependent tendencies. A character like Dracula is crucial as a metaphor because of his superpowers. Leaving an emotionally and/or physically abusive person can feel impossible because of a their superpower-like hold over you. And you can’t just run away because they’ll still torment you, whether by seeking you out or staying in your mind, like Dracula in the movie. The only way to face them is directly and risk everything, even your life.
Renfield witnesses Rebecca do this multiple times — when she’s surrounded by dirty cops and when the son of a crime family is about to blow her brains out. She understands that her power (soul) is more important than her life. Watching her stand up to the cop friends who she thought were on her side and the crime family who killed her father gives Renfield the courage to stand up to Dracula. He delays his decision for over a century but he shows us it’s never too late.
The only somewhat toxic relationship I experienced was in high school and college. When I tried to leave, she would threaten to hurt herself. And when I left after accepting that I was not responsible for her wellbeing, she lied that she was pregnant. I drove over to her house with a pregnancy test and ended it for good. I think that was the time I actually stood up to her.
These days, I’m less likely to stay in toxic or unhealthy relationships when I notice that something is off. However, lately I’ve found myself thinking I need a girlfriend to check some sort of happiness box. I’m fortunate enough to see this as a false thought — like a thought about needing coffee to be productive — but I imagine this codependent thinking is what leads people into toxic relationships. The good news is, you can always leave, even though it feels impossible.
Who or what is your Dracula?