Shadow of the Vampire - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Shadow of the Vampire Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 29, 2015
The idea is really original and Dafoe delivers a spectacular performance under that fantastic makeup (the scene of the Count devouring the bat is hysterical); it is just a pity, though, that the weak script has such a redundant dialogue and Merhige's direction has some misfires.
Samuel Riley
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2013
If there is a good reason to watch this film, then it's Willem Dafoe's spine shivering performance. From his body language and disturbing smile, to his maniacal voice, Dafoe delivers a performance that shouldn't be forgotten very easily. There was a particular scene that was priceless; of how Dafoe's character was hit by the sun, his reaction was so convincing, its very difficult to ignore how powerful Willem Dafoe made this Oscar worthy performance, for which I personally believe he should've won.
Super Reviewer
June 20, 2012
Not quite sure what to think of this one. At some parts it's extremely interesting but at other times I feel I'm watching a film written by a 5 year old, especially towards the end. I don't really know what it's trying to say. A good cast and an intriguing look into old time filmmaking with Malkovich's performance unusual as per usual but the real stand out of the film is most certainly Dafoe. I didn't even recognize him at first but his performance really is spectacular and the film is worth watching for that alone. I'm not sure what it is about this film but it was strangely good.
Super Reviewer
November 20, 2007
Quirky and well acted but a bit slow at times.
Super Reviewer
December 7, 2009
Willem Dafoe's deranged performance as Max Shreck is completely worth this movie. However, it is actually a very good movie in itself. I loved the remade shots of Nosferatu, they are incredibly dead on. While the filming style is a little sub-par, it is a minor drawback.
Super Reviewer
November 27, 2009
Willem Dafoe is sooo CREEPY!! So much like the original...John Malkovich, who I am usually on the fece on, I like...I was also pleasenty surprised to see Cary Elwes. I always enjoy him. OO THAT willem in Boondock Saints lol.
Super Reviewer
July 18, 2009
Very interesting premise but hasn't executed very well & you can feel that something's missing specially near the end, Dafoe rules in this
Super Reviewer
June 27, 2009
A complete disappointment. SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE is an exercise in ridiculousness, from the terrible script to the caricaturesque performances. Utter waste of time, even at 92 minutes.
Super Reviewer
½ June 15, 2008
Interesting approach to the material, Dafoe truly impresses here.
Super Reviewer
January 22, 2007
I REVIEWED THIS SHIT TWICE and it didn't save either time. Fucking go to hell, Flixster. Here are two things I liked about the movie that I copied from a totally different post I made because I'm lazy and I don't feel like writing about it anymore.

+ Atmosphere. This movie, in terms of composition, is unlike few others. As dumb as this will surely seem, it's like a silent movie with sound - the image is placed at the forefront and what the characters are saying is secondary. Some of the best scenes of the movie come when Murnau is filming his movie and what we are seeing is shown in grainy black-and-white film, interwoven with the "real" scenes in color. I think it's a reminder of some of the things that we take for granted about black and white film...The stimuli are different, sure, but the starkness of the image can make what you're seeing all the more visceral. The first time this technique is used, Murnau is filming the vampire's first appearance, and it is downright chilling to watch him emerge from the shadows.

The movie is very Gothic, not in the meaning of the term that most of us know, but in that it's evocative of crumbling European castles and creatures lurking in the shadows. It successfully captures two tones: that of the original Nosferatu, and something completely new, bleak and haunted and totally beautiful. It seems shallow to praise a movie so heavily for its aesthetic, but Shadow of the Vampire is truly remarkable work.

+ Willem Dafoe. This is the role that really brought Dafoe to the forefront for me. To be honest, I never paid any attention to him in anything else he's been in, even though people claim he's a real acting chameleon and stuff like that. His work in Shadow of the Vampire as Max Schreck, however, is too good to be ignored. It is a truly incredible immersion of an actor into his role, standing well among the work of DDL's much loved Daniel Plainview or any other transformative performance in recent years. Frankly, for him to have lost the Supporting Actor Oscar to Benicio Del Toro's work in Traffic is a travesty; Benny is good, but it was a boring role and he's done far better work in a lot of other movies. Dafoe is unforgettable. He is the only actor to have nailed his accent, for one. Regrettably, a lot of the other accents are God-awful; between this and Mary Reilly, John Malkovich seems unable to do much with his voice.

Dafoe must have watched Nosferatu a hundred times to prepare for this role. He moves like a vampire, looks like a vampire (thanks in part to the awesome makeup), talks like a vampire (a great feat considering Nosferatu didn't have any sound) and acts like a vampire, in more meanings of the term than one. There are so many dimensions to this role: black humor, longing, primal fear, vengeance, theatrics... the character is compelling enough as it is, and Dafoe nails every single one of these aspects effortlessly. You simply forget that it is a person playing this creature.

I think this movie is an acquired taste, and no matter how much I praise it, there are going to be people who it doesn't quite gel with. I don't really have a problem with that; it just depends on what you're watching a movie to see. But if you're looking for something of dark, fundamental beauty, Shadow of the Vampire is tough to beat. And for those concerned, it is only 86 minutes long, so you really don't have much to lose.
Super Reviewer
½ September 15, 2007
I love revisionist horror movies and this is a really noteworthy entry. I love how Murnau is portrayed as so completely dedicated to his movie that he's willing to feed this actress to an actual vampire for the sake of realism. This movie is almost like an inside joke for old horror nerds as much as it is a love letter to the source material. This is so great.
Super Reviewer
½ May 16, 2007
Another disappointment. Not that the film was bad. It was actually OK, although nothing spectacular. And I enjoyed the reworking of Nosferatu. But this film is WAY too short. The beginning credits seem to go on forever, which makes it seem even shorter. And near the end, just when it started to pull together, it just ends. Maybe there will be a director's cut that is better.
Super Reviewer
½ September 6, 2007
willen dafoe steals this one as max sick piece of work and one of method acting's earliest adherents!
Super Reviewer
February 21, 2007
Do you believe Max Schreck was a real vampire while shooting the 1922 silent German vampire classic Nosferatu? That is really mysterious true story to believe it or not.
Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2006
Something of a failed experiment, this film-within-a-film (normally a topic I like) concerns the production of vampire classic Nosferatu. With the difference that Shreck is in fact, a real vampire.
Though the picture has some good visual style and Malkovich and Kier do adequate performances, the whole affair requires a big leap of faith to swallow. And moreover, to try and act like Count Orlok was in fact a genuine bloodsucker does come off as pretty insulting.
Though Dafoe does play said character exactly as intended, the simple fact that silent acting does not combine well with modernistic acting makes his efforts unintenionally comical. This shows most clearly in the actress' realisation of this fact, and Dafoe's angular scurrying makes the scene ridiculous.
Kudos must go to the research behind the project, because aside from the film's raison d'etre, it is historically accurate. A slightly daft companion piece to a cinematic milestone.
Super Reviewer
½ November 14, 2006
Pretty dry and dull, but worth it for Dafoe's performance alone.
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
February 23, 2006
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Darkly comical with great stabs of satire at the film industry (bloodsuckers in the movies anyone? Hmmmmmm). Willem Dafoe retains his title as Creepiest Actor Alive and goes for broke with a tour de force performance that should have you checking under the bed. 'Shadow of the Vampire' is alive, to use the term sparingly, with wit and a slow but maturely steadied pace. Dafoe deserves an Oscar and your fear.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: A[/color][/font]
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2012
Shadow of the Vampire is an intriguing and provocative dramatic thriller that satirizes the silent film classic Nosferatu. The film supposed that Max Schreck was an actual vampire recruited by director F. W. Murnau to play Count Orlok in order to get an authentic performance, but tragedy plagues the set of Nosferatu as a number of the crew fall victim to mysterious attacks. John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, and Cary Elwes deliver strong performances; particularly Dafoe, who does an exceptional job capturing Max Schreck's original performance. And, it's really impressive how well the film incorporates and recreates footage from Nosferatu, which serves to enhance the reality of the film. Yet as clever as the concept is, it doesn't ever feel like the film is living up to its potential; as if the story isn't taking the concept far enough. But even with its problems, Shadow of the Vampire is a fascinating film.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2013
An unusual genre-defying movie that has a strange appeal, although it is sometimes too slow-paced. Shadow of the Vampire is driven by a great performance from John Malkovich and an even greater performance from Willem Dafoe, who is wonderfully creepy in everything he does as Max Schreck. From his disgusted facial expressions to his grotesque body language, Dafoe is perfect in his role. The movie isn't perfect, but Shadow of the Vampire is just peculiar enough to make for an enjoyable viewing.
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