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Shadow of the Vampire

Shadow of the Vampire

Shadow of the Vampire is a 2000 metafiction horror film directed by E. Elias Merhige, written by Steven Katz, and starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe. The film is a fictionalized documentary account of the making of the classic vampire film Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, directed by F. W. Murnau, during which the film crew began to have disturbing suspicions about their lead actor.

Plot

In 1921, German director F. W. Murnau takes his cast and crew on-location in Czechoslovakia to shoot Nosferatu, an unauthorized version of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. Murnau keeps his team in the dark about their schedule and the actor playing the vampire Count Orlok. It is left to the film's other main actor, Gustav von Wangenheim, to explain that the lead is an obscure German theater performer named Max Schreck, who is a character actor. To involve himself fully in his role, Schreck will only appear amongst the cast and crew in makeup, will only ever be filmed at night, and will never break character.