Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

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A clever and atmospheric take on the 1920’s vampire story ‘Nosferatu’. A dark and shadowy tale with an outstanding embodiment from Dafoe taking place as the lean Count of the film.

This film finds the director of ‘Nosferatu’ and his casting of Max Schreck as the titular vampire. The actor becomes increasingly obsessed with Ellen and her as a prize making other cast and crew suspect he really is a vampire.

Willem Dafoe is magnificent as Count Orlok, his performance is like watching the real actor from the classic German picture that this film is using as its source. John Malkovich is as loopy and brilliant as always and when these two actors are together the scenes are great. Yes some of the acting is hammy but it fits with the over dramatic theatre acting style of the silent era. I sat entranced watching them and actors like Eddie Izzard recreating moments from the original – ‘Nosferatu’, they looked pretty much the same, it was incredible. A nice touch of blending old shots with new making this film from only 14 years ago come across like a proper old style release.

The story of thinking and turning Max Schreck into an actual vampire is clever and yes it doesn’t make sense if he dies and therefore isn’t alive to act anymore but it’s a neat little idea and the film is beautifully shot and Dafoe should have got an Oscar in my opinion as he really becomes Schrek and Orlok in one and displays a chilling ripple of terror through the performance.

The only downside to this film is the sense of it being a love letter to people who have seen ‘Nosferatu’, anyone else may not get the film, it’s style and message. I loved ‘Nosferatu’ though and with no shadow of a doubt it is the best vampire film made…still and that’s something considering how many years have passed since it came out. So in my eyes this new twist on the tale is a brave and brilliant move and I enjoyed it unravelling.

8/10

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