Saturday, June 22, 2024

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3 Big Things on ‘Renfield’ – A SPOILER-FREE Review

Riding home from the theater, taking in the beautiful Austin sunset tonight, I sort-of relished in the fact that I was gonna get to write my first bad review of 2023. All the movies I’ve seen in the past few months have been above-average to great. It’s been kinda boring and I’ve started to think that I may just too agreeable to have any business writing movie reviews.

Then ‘Renfield’ falls into my lap.

Granted, it isn’t the worst movie I’ve reviewed for Korked Bats. Hell, it’s not even the worst vampire movie I’ve reviewed for Korked Bats (‘Morbius’ gets that distinction)—but I can say that it certainly did not meet my already low expectations.

So if you’re on the fence about whether or not you should see ‘Renfield’ here are 3 Big Things to consider:

1. Nick Cage unhinged is just good for America

Alright, let’s go ahead and get the good stuff out of the way first. Nick Cage is fantastic in the film as Dracula. He’s absolutely unhinged and it’s clear that he is having the time of his life. From a performance standpoint, he’s the only real bright spot other than maybe Brendan Scott Jones’s character of Mark–the co-dependency support group leader who delivers maybe the funniest line in the film (which unfortunately was already featured in the trailer). The film is simply not nearly as fun when Cage isn’t there, which is truly disappointing given the cast includes some of my favorite comedy-actors (Awkwafina, Ben Schwartz, Nicholaus Hoult, etc.).

It’s also very clear that Nick Cage is truly a student of film, as there are moments where it truly feels like he is channeling Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. It’s certainly a more over-the-top and eccentric version of the character, but you cannot deny that Cage is paying tribute with this portrayal. Is it Nick’s best performance since ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’? People are asking.

2. ‘Renfield’ seems to be having an identity crisis

The movies tries it’s hand at a lot of different things, and unfortunately doesn’t succeed at any of them. It’s tries to be a comedy, but other that a few well timed lines, it really struggles to be funny. It tries it’s hand as being a vampire-horror, but loses it’s focus on Renfield’s dynamic with Dracula and become more about his relationship to the outside world. It also tries it’s hand at being some version of a crime movie with crooked cops and drug dealers to boot, but it’s poorly woven into the main plot to where it gets confusing and seems unnecessary.

It pains me to say it also, but Awkwafina playing a rogue-maverick cop and Ben Schwartz playing a drug-lord simply doesn’t work. The movie relies too much on trying to make them funny in roles and they just don’t fit well at well. Truly disappointing considering that 9 times out of 10, I love it when either of them show up in anything.

3. Gore as comedy almost never works

It’s one of my biggest pet-peeves in all of film. Exuberant gore in an effort to get laughs. I’m not morally opposed to it…I just think it’s low-hanging fruit. Unfortunately in ‘Renfield’ it seems to be the schtick of choice–to the point where I started to tune-out or roll my eyes towards the end of the second act. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who think excessive gore is hilarious, but those people are peasants who don’t realize it’s just a crutch…one that this film leans on a bit to heavily.

So I won’t mince words: ‘Renfield’ is my least favorite movie of 2023 thus-far. I do think there is an audience for this movie, and I imagine I’ll hear a few dissenting opinions, but it’s a sub-par film that couldn’t entertain me in any meaningful way. Nick Cage gets some love, but other than that I don’t think I can recommend this one.


2/5 Swedish Fish

So what do you think? Be sure to holler at us on Twitter (@korkedbats@thecineboiz) and Instagram (@korkedbats@thecineboiz)

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Kenny lives in Austin, TX and is one of the co-hosts of the CineBoiz Podcast. When he isn’t talking about or watching movies he can be found kicking it with Mickie the Dog and re-watching the Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl 54 for the 25th time.