“Renfield” is a Tale of Two Nics

by Christian Ramos on April 15, 2023

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Minor Rock Fist Up]

“I’m a vampire!”

“I’m a vampire!” 

Those immortal words rang through the 1988 film Vampire’s Kiss and now, 35 years later, Nicolas Cage finally gets to be the vampire he was destined to be. Renfield (directed by Chris McKay) tells the story of the Counts familiar (Nicholas Hoult) and his quest to break up from the vampire’s relationship and live his own fulfilling life in modern times. 

Renfield has been a constant assistant and companion to Dracula for the last 100 years or so. He’s gone through leaps and bounds to ensure his master is always kept alive but the blood of innocents, but as any underpaid employee will tell you, there’s a time where you just gotta tell the boss enough is enough. In modern day New Orleans, Renfield still tramps the city finding his master victims, but to much dismay. When a chance encounter with a local gang led by Tedward Lobo (Ben Schwartz) and his mother Bellafrancesca (Shohreh Aghdashloo) sends shockwaves around a mysterious man who has supernatural powers, Renfield seeks the aid of Rebecca (Awkwafina) a cop who wants to take down the Lobos for killing her father. 

Renfield wants to help Rebecca because she sees him as a person and not just a piece of meat like Dracula does. Renfield has a moment of self-discovery from his emotional support group that maybe it is time to leave Dracula high and dry and live his own fulfilling life. That is of course, until the old vampire boss has a goal of his own without the use of his emotional assistant. 

This semi-silly movie is unfortunately spoiled all throughout the trailer. Because I go to movies so much…the trailer gives most everything away. All of the funny bits and bobs are only when Cage is on screen gracing us with the kind of over-the-top performance that he is so good at. Renfield and Rebecca just sitting and talking isn’t the most interesting thing in the world and that’s what a lot of this is, even in its short runtime. I really dug the fighting scenes because they finally deliver – a high-energy laugh-out-loud movie, like we were promised. 

The honest-to-goodness best part of this is the total homage to the 1931 Bela Lugosi Dracula film that I think was given some nice justice instead of used for just a cheap trick. That made me actually smile and remember that above anything else. 

Overall, I wish we had gotten a straight-up modern-day Dracula story and not the story of Renfield. I know Universal is wanting to do more fun things with their monster IP, but focusing on the assistance and putting capital CAGE in the background seems like a silly thing to do.

Christian Ramos is a classic film fan, having had the dream to host Turner Classic Movies for years now. He also has a large amount of Oscar trivia in his head, remembers dressing as Groucho Marx one Halloween, and cherishes the moment Julianne Moore liked his tweet.


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