Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

(In French, On Cable TV, October 2016) I’ve had Shadow of the Vampire on my radar on-and-off (mostly off) since 2000, but only recently managed to get ahold of it. A revisionist filmmaking comedy in which the crew of Nosferatu realizes that they’re dealing with a true vampire? Sounds good to me! My expectations may have been too high, though, as viewing the film quickly tempered my enthusiasm. Despite seeing John Malkovich and Willem Defoe in fine form in the two lead roles, Shadow of the Vampire quickly becomes over-stylized and under-entertaining. (The dull opening credits, spanning almost five of a 90-minutes film, should have been a tip-off.) Despite the potential of the film, it’s executed limply and without much of the pleasure we may have expected from the premise. I will acknowledge that my enjoyment may have been hampered by insufficient familiarity with the object of the metafiction—if I was more familiar with the original silent Nosferatu silent film, I may have gotten more out of its re-enactment. Still, there isn’t much in the result to compel ordinary viewers, and so I leave Shadow of the Vampire unsatisfied, with the shadow of unfulfilled potential.

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