Shadow of the Vampire (2000) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Shadow of the Vampire (2000) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on October 14th, 2021 | Movie Review | Vampire, Drama, Meta, Dracula

Add Shadow of the Vampire (2000) to your Watchlist

Add to Watchlist

You need to login or register to add this movie to your horror watchlist.

It’s a metafiction retelling of the filming of the silent film masterpiece Nosferatu, eiene Symphonie des Grauns (1922).

Shadow of the Vampire was directed by E. Elias Merhige (who also directed the cult fav Begotten) and written by Steven Katz (who co-penned Wind Chill). It stars John Malkovich (from Bird Box and Warm Bodies) as F.W. Murnau (1888-1931), the director, Willem Dafoe (who starred in The Lighthouse (as Thomas Wake, a wickie) and The Last Temptation of Christ (as Christ, the savior)) as Max Schreck (1879-1936), the actor, and Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride and several Saw films (as Dr. Lawrence Gordon, the amputee)) as Fritz Arno Wagner (1889-1958), the acclaimed German Expressionist cinematographer.

What if the genuine Count Dracula was cast as Orlock in Nosferatu?

Shadow of the Vampire Review

Shadow of the Vampire is a brilliant film which confronts horror with a pair of tough questions. Both questions get at the genre of horror on a fundamental level. Surely, horror is entertainment. Perhaps it is morally instructive, at its best, secondarily. But its topics are grim, ugly things. Why ought we to indulge in that which we ought to reject? Do such things really do us any good?

I’ve heard plenty of people preach exercise, meditation, and work-life balance as contributing to a fulfilling existence. I’ve heard others emphasize religion, devotion, moral clarity, works of charity. I’ve heard some who recommend friendships and family. But let’s be honest. No one recommends horror as a pastime for achieving the good life. And so, Shadow of the Vampire asks of horror:   

If it’s fiction, what good is it?

If it’s not, how dangerous is it?

The enterprise of making horror is often as grim as its subject matter. Hollywood is not a friendly place of charity and goodwill. It’s competitive, greedy, and profit-oriented. German cinema in the 1920’s was no different.

Thus, the ambitions of F.W. Murnau, the director of Nosferatu, are self-serving. He cares little or not at all for actors and members of the crew, except as means to an end. And the end he has in mind is a corrupting obsession – to direct the greatest horror film of all time. Which he does.

Taking this premise to its logical conclusion, Murnau recruits an actual vampire, Max Schreck, and invites him onto the set, without revealing the actor’s true back story. In a scene as darkly comic and grotesque of any on celluloid, Scheck is conversing with actors and crew during a break in filming. Spontaneously, he plucks a bat from the night air and gobbles it up. His mouth is all broken wings, fur, and gore. Astonished, and without missing a beat, the producer pays him a genuine compliment: “Max, the German theatre needs you.”

Worth Watching?

Ja. If there be only one horror film you ever see, it ought to be this one, after which, you might consider Nosferau.

Shadow of the Vampire Review (2000) Worth Watching? - ALL HORROR Tweet it

Would it Kill You to Subscribe?

Get horror news, reviews and movie recommendations every Friday!

We respect your email privacy