Already, 2023 has been blessed with some rather good horror films. M3GAN was surprisingly well conceived – even if it’ll inevitably lead to a six-part movie series – Infinity Pool continued Mia Goth’s ascendancy to the go-to leading lady in horror, and Huesera: The Bone Woman certainly offered something different and chilling. Still, given its cast, one of the biggest is yet to come at the time of writing.
Arriving on April 14, Renfield will bring together Nicholas Hoult of X-Men fame, YouTube singer-turned-actor Awkwafina, and, in the role of Count Dracula, Nicolas Cage. With its $86.2 million budget and being firmly detached from the Universal Monsters premise that The Mummy commenced and collapsed, expectations are fairly high for this Robert Kirkman flick. Importantly, it may mark another little step away from the 00s vampires.
A huge pivot in how vampires were popularly showcased
Vampires used to be among the darkest and scariest of iconic horror creatures going, with Count Dracula being among the finest of horror antagonists. In 1996, From Dusk Till Dawn suddenly pivoted into a vampire flick featuring creepy creatures, and in 2002, Guillermo del Toro went all-in on making vampires as menacing as possible. Incidentally, the Mexican director drew his depiction of vampires in Blade II and The Strain from his same set of notes on vampires.
In 2008, that all changed. Suddenly, grotesque, sometimes feral, and creepy vampires were replaced by brooding, sexy humans with the vampire curse. In September 2008, a much more R-rated True Blood debuted to have a human girl get rescued by and fall in love with a vampire before immersing herself in the realms of the supernatural. In November of that year, the similarly book-based movie Twilight followed those same story beats to make $402 million at the worldwide box office and spawn a $3.3 billion franchise.
The popularity of this new, sexy, sometimes sparkly form of vampire had an impact across entertainment and can still be found in 2023. After a rigorous review process, the second-placed site among the best online casinos still offers the popular slot inspired by these late-00s vampires. This game, which can be played with the welcome bonus, is Immortal Romance. Launched in 2011, the slot has intertwining stories and love tales between humans and vampires. It just shows how impactful this turn of vampires was across the industry.
Will Renfield draw us away from the 00s vampires?
Renfield is said to be based on the 1897 novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, and the director says that it’ll be a direct sequel to 1931’s Dracula by Tod Browning. However, while that classic flick was very much a supernatural horror immortalized by the performance of Bela Lugosi as the dreaded Count, Renfield is a horror comedy. Count Dracula won’t be sparkling, nor the subject of a naive girl’s affections, but with Nicolas Cage in the role, it’ll almost certainly feature over-the-top acting.
Undoubtedly, Cage is a great actor when he wants to be, but several outings in the 00s and 10s certainly give viewers pause for thought as to whether the film’s merely being shipped on his name, hiding the B-tier script and direction beneath. Right now, perhaps the biggest success in vampirism on-screen is What We Do in the Shadows – a comedy mockumentary. It does have some very creepy creatures in it – such as Carol – but with Renfield reportedly being inspired by the show, it’d be safe to say that it’ll be much more about comedy than horror.
Movies to watch for the true horror vampires
Perhaps the only place to start for modern moviegoers seeking a horror-imbued vampire flick is Bram Stoker’s Dracula from the legendary Francis Ford Coppola in 1992. It holds up very well to this day, especially because it stars Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, and Anthony Hopkins. Of course, the one that most will point to as the ultimate depiction of vampires on-screen is Nosferatu from 1922, which laid the groundwork for all movie vampires to come.
If you’re not one for movies that were made before the turn of the millennium, then perhaps 30 Days of Night (2007), Daybreakers (2009), Let the Right One in (2008), The Transfiguration (2016), and Thirst (2009), are all certainly worth a watch. For the most part, you’ll experience the bloodthirst and inherent creepiness that comes with being a night-walking, cursed creature in these vampire movies.
Renfield may not be the return to true horror vampirism as many long-time fans of Dracula have hoped for, but there’s a chance that we might just get a top-notch Cage showing as the Count.