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Nosferatu: The Witch Director Remakes the Vampire Classic

12/11/2023 • 4 min read

(Updated 06/24/2024)Nosferatu | Cinemark

Since his debut with THE WITCH, filmmaker Robert Eggers has made his name with grim, strange, hard-hitting genre movies like THE LIGHTHOUSE and THE NORTHMAN. Now, while working in that same mode, he's applying his touch to a remake of NOSFERATU.

The original NOSFERATU, released in 1922, is a silent movie produced in Germany, and an unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel, "Dracula." With the skeletal Max Shrek as the title character — a vampire who is more monstrous than seductive — the original has long been recognized as a pioneering and still frightening horror movie.

With his detail-oriented approach, the notion of Eggers developing his own take on the material is exciting. Here's everything we know about NOSFERATU, including the first teaser trailer.

When Does Nosferatu Come Out?

Focus Features will release NOSFERATU on December 25, Christmas Day, this year. It's pretty unusual for big horror movies to arrive at Christmas, which suggests serious confidence in the movie over at Focus.

Watch the First Nosferatu Trailer

Wow! We don't need to see any more than that, frankly. The approach Eggers seems to be taking here — informed as much by Francis Ford Coppola's take on Dracula as the two versions of NOSFERATU by F.W. Murnau and Werner Herzog — looks brutal, horrific, and beautiful.

Robert Eggers Has Been Pursuing Nosferatu for Years

This movie was first announced in 2015, only months after Eggers became a horror celebrity thanks to the Sundance premiere of THE WITCH. Planning the project was one thing but getting it made was clearly another — by the time NOSFERATU is in theatres it will be nearly a decade since that original announcement.

The director originally lined up his THE WITCH star Anya Taylor-Joy to star, presumably in the role now played by Lily-Rose Depp. There was a point where Harry Styles was almost in the movie, too. But development stalled more than once — or, more to the point, the money failed to come together. But Eggers finally got everything to line up, and the film wrapped production in May 2023.

Willem Dafoe in Nosferatu by Robert Eggers

Who's in the Cast of Nosferatu?

Some of the buzz around NOSFERATU is due to the cast. Bill Skarsgård stars as Count Orlok, the vampire who (in the original movie) travels from Transylvania to Germany in search of a new home and/or hunting ground. Nicholas Hoult plays Thomas Hutter, a slightly altered version of the Jonathan Harker character from "Dracula."

(And yes, Hoult played Renfield in the "Dracula" inspired movie RENFIELD last year. Meanwhile, the other Dracula movie last year, THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER, featured a vampire design very much inspired by the original NOSFERATU.)

Additionally, Lily-Rose Depp plays Ellen Hutter, who takes an active role in trying to control the vampiric new resident of her town. Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays Friedrich Harding; Emma Corrin is Anna Harding; and Willem Dafoe appears as Professor Albin Eberhart Von Franz. Simon McBurney plays Herr Knock, and Ralph Ineson is Dr. Wilhelm Sievers.

We don't know how faithful this movie will be to the 1922 original, but the character names suggest that Eggers is sticking with the skeleton of the German movie, at least. That said, the Willem Dafoe character, a very minor part of the original movie, has been expanded significantly into more of a crazed Van Helsing type for this movie.

(You might be surprised to hear that when Werner Herzog made his own remake in 1979, he was pretty faithful to the silent version, though "Dracula" having entered public domain meant that he could use character names from the book. And while we're talking about connections to older versions of this story, it's also worth remembering that in SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE, Willem Dafoe played a fictionalized version of Max Shreck, the actor who played the monster in the original version of NOSFERATU. )

Expect Nosferatu to Be a Real Horror Movie

As we said above, the Christmas horror movie release is rare. And Eggers intends this as a legit horror movie. "It’s a scary film. It’s a horror movie. It’s a Gothic horror movie,” he told Empire. "There hasn’t been an old-school Gothic movie that’s actually scary in a while, he said. "And I think that the majority of audiences will find this one to be the case."

And while the vampire image created by Murnau's 1922 movie has endured for a century, to the point where it is a recognizable go-to for other filmmakers, expect something a little different here. "I think the main thing is that he’s even more a folk vampire," Eggers explained. "In my opinion he looks like a dead Transylvanian nobleman, and in a way that we’ve never actually seen what an actual dead Transylvanian nobleman would look like and be dressed like.”


NOSFERATU opens on December 25.


All images courtesy of Focus Features.

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