Shadow of the Vampire
Starring:
John Malkovich, Udo Kier, Willem Dafoe
Directed By :
Grade
B+

For those who haven't heard about Shadow, this is a fictional retelling of the troubled filming of F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu, a classic silent film that helped in defining the vampire in film. While both giving a "behind-the-scenes" feel of the original film, Shadow also injects the emotions and reality of the situations of the cast as the events happen.

Cuts of the original film are meshed with the new footage well, carrying the viewer through the process of Murnau's vision. The use of original locations aids in linking the past movie and the current movie together. In a movie that's been pushed as a horror film, there are many parts in which humor, albiet dark, still crops up, breaking the heavy mental tone of the story.

Even though the movie is obviously aimed at silent-film fanatics, indie-flick-philes and Hollywood history buffs, it still puts on a good show. All around, performances are good, but nothing stellar is brought to the table, save Dafoe's immersively disturbing rendition of Max Shreck, the vampire playing an actor playing a vampire. His dark soliloquies and outside-the-norm life patterns aid in making Shreck stand out from the others.

Shadow of the Vampire is a finely woven tale, but may not be for everyone. The ending itself leaves the viewer to wonder who the real monster was: Shreck or the obsessive Murnau (played by Malkovich). There is no action and without the comedic moments, the film might have been a bit oppressive for most. Still, this is a fine monument to a groundbreaking moment in film history.

- - Kinderfeld

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