Shadow of the Vampire

Critics Consensus

Shadow of the Vampire is frightening, compelling, and funny, and features an excellent performance by Willem Dafoe.



Total Count: 137


Audience Score

User Ratings: 25,369
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Movie Info

F W Murnau is making Nosferatu on location in Eastern Europe. The director is determined to make this the most authentic movie ever. To this end Murnau has employed a real vampire, Max Schreck. He explains Schreck's weird behavior by saying that he is a fastidious method actor. As payment Schreck has been promised drug addicted beauty Greta - Nosferatu's leading-lady. She is to be his at the end of filming. But it seems that Schreck cannot wait that long to taste the blood of the crew.

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Critic Reviews for Shadow of the Vampire

All Critics (137) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (112) | Rotten (25)

  • The screenplay, by Steven Katz, suffers from arch, almost unspeakably theatrical dialogue, and, as Murnau, John Malkovich recites his lines as if monomania were synonymous with monotonic: He drains the drama of blood.

    Sep 25, 2007 | Full Review…

    David Edelstein

    Top Critic
  • Wholly absorbing and inspired in parts, this carefully crafted curio dares to suggest that Murnau made a Faustian pact with an actual vampire to play the title role in exchange for the neck of the film's leading lady at production's end.

    Sep 25, 2007

    Todd McCarthy

    Top Critic
  • Intriguing, eccentric, sporadically entertaining tosh (but tosh all the same).

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • It's a marvelous, resonant joke that never quite succeeds: Stretches of the film resemble a Dario Argento horrorfest crossed with a Mel Brooks spoof.

    Sep 26, 2002
  • Out of such dizzying layers of (un)reality, some sublime films have emerged. Nosferatu was one of them, and this is not -- but, c'mon, credit it with the old college try, a pretty decent effort.

    Mar 22, 2002 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's a one-trick pony, but boy, is that trick a thoroughbred.

    Apr 16, 2001 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Ben Falk
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Shadow of the Vampire

  • Mar 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.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 21, 2014
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Apr 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.
    Samuel R Super Reviewer
  • Jan 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.
    Joey S Super Reviewer

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