The Nosferatu Trailer Makes a Big Case for Justifying Its Existence

He is coming.

A black and white image of a surprised woman standing between curtains, wearing a floral dress and e...
Focus Features

More than 100 years ago, F. W. Murnau released his unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Nosferatu, and made cinema history. The German Expressionist horror movie would quickly circumnavigate any copyright disturbances to become one of the most influential films of all time — creating the blueprint for modern vampire movies and shaping the cinematic language itself. So it’s no wonder that Hollywood has attempted to remake it several times — but this second time may be the charm.

At least, judging by the trailer for Robert Eggers’ Nosferatu remake, they got the right director for the job. The upcoming film starring Bill Skarsgård, Nicholas Hoult, Lily-Rose Depp, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Emma Corrin, and Willem Dafoe has all the palpable dread typical of the films of the Northman director, eschewing the German Expressionist stylings of the original in favor of something darker and more grim. But even if the trailer only gives us the tiniest of glimpses of Skarsgård’s Count Orlok (really, just his shadow), the official trailer for Nosferatu manages to capture the spirit of the original.

Eggers’ Nosferatu is described as “a gothic tale of obsession between a haunted young woman and the terrifying vampire infatuated with her, causing untold horror in its wake.” And based on the trailer, it seems to follow the Dracula-inspired story, with Lily-Rose Depp’s Ellen Hutter plagued by visions of a great evil, as Willem Dafoe’s Professor Albin Eberhart Von Franz attempts to discover what ails her. Nicholas Hoult plays the Jonathan Harker stand-in, Thomas Hutter, who travels to Transylvania to visit Count Orlok, and unwittingly brings the vampire back home, where his wife Ellen (Depp) becomes targeted by Orlok.

The trailer is full of disturbing imagery of rats overtaking the streets, crazed men biting into the heads of rodents, and Ellen bleeding a black ooze from her eyes and mouth — all signs that Eggers is not afraid to take this story into even more grotesque and disgusting places that the original film would not have allowed.

But the question is: will Eggers’ Nosferatu justify itself? The cast list is already an impressive enough argument in his favor, with Skarsgård already proven himself as one of the most terrifying modern horror villains in Andy Muschietti’s It. The presence of Willem Dafoe, who himself played a version of Count Orlok in Shadow of the Vampire (which saw 1922 film star Max Schreck getting a little too invested in his role), is also hugely in the film’s favor. However, Werner Herzog already remade Nosferatu in 1979 to critical success — which means that Eggers’ Nosferatu will not only be compared to the 1922 classic, it also has Herzog’s version to contend with.

But however the film turns out, it’s clear that Eggers is not sacrificing his own directorial vision with this remake. The director of films like The Witch and The Lighthouse remains one of the most exciting filmmakers working today, and we can only look forward to his version of Nosferatu with great anticipation.

Nosferatu opens in theaters December 25.

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