Nosferatu (1922) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Nosferatu (1922) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on January 22nd, 2021 | Movie Review | Classic Horror

It’s about Dracula – it’s the original Bram Stoker authored Dracula story.

Nosferatu was directed by F.W. Murnau (a German silent film director) and stars Alexander Granach as “Hutter” and Max Schreck as “Count Orlok.”

Can a real estate broker close a deal for the Count without being bitten?

Nosferatu Review

If a horror fan sees only one silent film, typically, it would be Phantom of the Opera. But Phantom is simply a tragic romance. Nosferatu can promise a much more disturbing viewing experience. This is not a film of jump scares. For the average viewer, it is mostly devoid of terror. But it does boast unparalleled chills. As the film’s villain, Count Orlok is barely even recognizable as human.

In one scene, a lecturer demonstrates a translucent polyp and notes that it is so ghostly, it barely has a body at all. A few moments later, we see a semi-transparent Count Orlok creeping about the galley of the doomed ship delivering him to Western Europe. The message is clear: Count Orlok is a grotesque biped – but he is so supernaturally weird that he almost lacks a body altogether. He is more polyp than man.

As played by Max Schreck, Count Orlok is genuinely creepy. His pointy ears, his saucer-eyes, those straw-like fingers. Even his physique seems like something that resulted when a monster tried to shape himself into a human – but failed. As he jogs about, carrying a coffin stuffed with dirt in the crook of one arm, Orlok’s strength is palpable and otherworldly.

Little touches in the film allow the horror to mount. Not only is Count Orlok distorted and unfamiliar, the landscape itself seems unreliable. Protagonist Hutter’s boss, Herr Knock, instructs him to take on the Count as a client and sell Orlok a deserted abbey. (It’s a scam – sell the gullible foreigner a dilapidated wreck.) Knock gestures out the office window at the property. Somehow, a tilting multi-story ruin rises up and occupies the entire window frame. The sky is barely visible behind it. It’s enormous and predatory.

Moments before, Hutter, grinning foolishly, had skipped down a tree-lined street of a modest German town. Now, looking back out at it, a crumbling relic with darkened holes where windows once were looks like it’s ready to gobble the two men up.

Most adaptations Bram Stoker’s novel play upon an anti-immigrant or anti-Semitic theme. The vampire originates from Eastern Europe. His accent and cape reveal him as an invader. Nosferatu rejects this approach. Although Stoker’s widow sued for the unlicensed rendition of her husband’s book (and nearly all copies of the film were destroyed per court order), Nosferatu is original in situating the grotesque not in a foreigner, but in a nightmare of our own.

Worth Watching?

Unqualifiedly, yes. It’s mandatory watching.

Nosferatu (1922) Worth Watching? - ALL HORROR Tweet it

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