What did you want to be when you were growing up? How much of those goals became a reality? Shortly after my ninth birthday, I found myself reeling with depression for the first time in my life. Not having a name for the way I was feeling, I channeled all of my feelings into distractions and became a movie buff. It was this season of my life that forever changed the course of my life. As I dug deeper into the history of cinema, I knew that I wanted to grow up and do something with film. At my young, idealistic age, I thought about making films, but the older I got, the more I leaned into writing about the medium.
Now I am a successful film critic, podcaster, and occasional film blogger. I’ve taken my love of the craft and turned it not only into a multimedia website but also into a non-profit that aims to use film as a launching point to discuss mental health. That non-profit is Victims and Villains. It’s one of those things that has again changed my life. Sometimes it’s the different paths in life that bring us to the paths we know today. I’m one of the hosts of the Nicolas Cage podcast, That’s High Praise, for our podcasting network. [Editor’s Note: Expect a crossover with The Farsighted Network’s CAGEMATCH in due time!]
I would have never thought I would be podcasting about one of the most versatile actors working today. Cage, much like a lot of us, had his own goals about the characters he wanted to play in his career. He has discussed three roles that he covets the most to one day play. The first one was Superman, which almost came to fruition in the late 1990s. The second is Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The final, which is now a reality, is the iconic vampire, Dracula.
Renfield, which you can now sink your teeth into on Blu-Ray, DVD, and streaming on Peacock, is Cage’s long-awaited transformation into a bloodsucking vampire. Seriously, most people joked about Robert Pattinson taking a decade to transform into a bat. Cage has been waiting since 1988’s Vampire Kiss. This film explores the toxic relationship between Dracula (Cage) and his familiar (Nicholas Hoult) drifting apart. While Dracula aims closer to his world dominance, Renfield aims to focus on his mental health while taking Dracula down in the process.
There are a lot of surprising things about Renfield. For one, it’s fascinating to see how this movie tackles genre. Typically, Dracula is found among the foundations of the horror genre. Here, it feels like the lore of vampires feels more in line with Monster Squad than it does with actual horror. It’s incredibly refreshing to have that. This approach to the material allows the filmmakers to create fun environments that warrant a buttload of rewatches. The majority of this film is presented as a horror comedy. Renfield is extremely hilarious.
In some ways, with Hoult’s character, it manages to feel like a fish out of water story. This allows for some fun montages of Hoult just discovering our world for the first time. Arguably one of the best relationships to come out of that experience is his relationship with Awkwafina. Awkwafina crushes it here. Both from a comedic standpoint and also serving as the film’s heartbeat. I’ve mentioned the surprises this film offers. Awkwafina’s character is huge. Audiences were teased a few years ago with her range when she delivered the performance of her career in The Farewell. While yes, her performance does the standard jokes that she has risen to fame with, it also allows her to continue that range as an actress.
Not to mention, she is a real action star in this. Honestly, Hoult is as well. The way in which Renfield approaches the action sequences in this movie is out of this world. The fight choreography and the way it is shot are simply stunning. I talked earlier about how much fun this movie is, and I think in large part that comes from the fight sequences in this movie. Cage is another drawing factor who definitely delivers. Maybe I’m a little biased because I host a Nicolas Cage podcast, but he doesn’t disappoint here. He has been waiting a long time to step into the cape and fangs of Dracula, and he doesn’t disappoint. He is simply electric in this role. It’s not very often that we get to see Cage take on the bad guy. Here, as Dracula, he is absolutely menacing while still retaining his signature charm.
Renfield’s pacing is brisk. This works beautifully in its favor. This movie manages to do a lot of stuff in its brief 93-minute runtime. The character development is well done. While the world feels large, we still only get to experience the development of a select group of characters. Renfield, being the obvious one, Awkwafina, and even Ben Schwartz, who plays the film’s secondary antagonist, Teddy Lobo. This is the perfect film to pop in for popcorn night. It’s hilarious, action-packed, and even manages to address some pretty serious topics. Not to mention, the cinematography in this movie is surprisingly well done. Renfield is out now with a slew of bonus features. If you’re like me and love collecting physical media, I recommend the “Dracula Sucks” edition, but if you want to have a good time, sign up for Peacock and stream it today.