Renfield is ‘a sloppy mess’ even though Nicolas Cage’s Dracula is a treat

by The Insights

The criminal connection has a positive effect on the story. It features Awkwafina, who is vivacious and comically bewildered as Rebecca, a New Orleans police officer assigned to traffic but determined to bring down the Lobos. She and Renfield have a romantic spark, which leads to one of the most inspired satirical sequences. In a montage satirizing a rom-com trope, Renfield gets his own bright new apartment, buys clothes, and shows up at the police station wearing a pastel-colored sweater from Macy’s and holding a bouquet of flowers for Rebecca. If only the movie had stayed on that track. What We Do in the Shadows, a similar tongue-in-cheek vampire story in its film and TV versions, works because it’s tethered to its bogus vanity, with characters convinced they’re just regular people who find themselves to be bloodsuckers. But Renfield’s disparate crime-action segments, which feel like a cynical ploy to viewers, constantly pull us away from the one gripping storyline.

Cage creates another lively and witty character, channeling the old movie Draculas from Bela Lugosi to Christopher Lee. The Earl, soon restored to his normal greenish-white pallor, smiles and shows rows of tiny, sharp little teeth. He glides with an air of entitlement and, in rare and amusing dialogue, orders Renfield to find him “tourists, nuns and a bus full of unsuspecting cheerleaders”, whose pure blood will feed him. (Dracula may not be aware of the cheerleaders’ alleged innocence.) But this fun-to-watch vampire never stays onscreen long enough to redeem the confusion of a movie he’s trapped in. . Renfield is worth watching for Cage, the entertaining performances of Hoult and Awkwafina, and not much more.


Renfield opens in cinemas in the US and UK on April 14

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