If Murnau's masterpiece was filmed entirely real, I am not sure what else would happened if Max Schrek were actually a vampire. Both Malkovich and Defoe give out some brilliant performances as the director & the vampire for whom they try to create a masterpiece of horror.
Genuine premise that somewhere between great sets and enviable cast turns out to be easy to watch, easier to forget thriller. Still, that does not disprove poetic highlights of screenwriting with proclamations of mankind's imperfection, while there's also room for self-parody. Thanks to the main cast, every approach works just fine but it could use longer running time to avoid being uneven.
An interesting, chilling fictionalization of the making of the classic vampire film "Nosferatu". John Malkovich is wonderful as F.W. Murnau, but Willem Dafoe is the real star of the film. He truly becomes Max Schreck before your eyes. The makeup deserves mention as well.
This movie is one of those loving homages that feels like Merhige wants to own the original as his own child; nevertheless the casting wins it over with Malkovich portraying Murnau as a sacrificial high priest of cinema and Defoe as an antsy, irritated aging vampire both camera shy and obsessed with the lead actress. It's not a very chilling movie but quietly crazy. --DiB
Murnau is one of my favorite directors, and Nosferatu one of my favorite films. Merhige's Shadow of the Vampire is both a loving tribute to Murnau's classic and a great film in its own right. The film turns between comedy and terror, but never falls into the realm of camp or parody. Merhige asks us to take his work seriously and we are able to do so. And the performances! Max Schreck is loveable and terrifying!