Why the new ‘Nosferatu’ remake is a good thing

07.28.15 2 years ago

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I am not categorically opposed to remakes, though I loathe it when a “perfect” film is cynically exploited just to capitalize on the title. A film like “The Exorcist” should never be remade, for example. Neither should “Alien.” I would hope that both of those titles are untouchable, but then again…

But sometimes, if there's an interesting take and a talented director attached, a remake can feel almost necessary. Such is the case with this newly-announced update of F.W. Murnau's 1922 silent classic “Nosferatu,” which is being helmed by Robert Eggers, who wrote and directed the acclaimed, reportedly terrifying period horror film “The Witch,” which netted Eggers the Directing Award in the U.S. Dramatic category at this year's Sundance Film Festival (it's expected to be released sometime this year).

Deadline describes the project as a “visceral adaptation” of Murnau's film, which was previously remade by Werner Herzog as “Nosferatu the Vampyre,” which brought a more humanistic bent to the eponymous, rodent-faced bloodsucker. The original was essentially an adaptation of Bram Stoker's “Dracula,” but could not use the Dracula name due to a rights issue.

While I haven't seen “The Witch,” the film comes frontloaded with stellar reviews (our own Drew McWeeny called it a “singular, upsetting vision”), and Eggers is shaping up to be one of the more interesting young genre directors out there.  Murnau's movie is a stone-cold classic and an important film overall (aided tremendously by Max Schrek's transcendently creepy performance), but it's not an accessible watch for modern audiences, which makes it a good choice for a modern retelling. I think as long as they treat the property with the respect it deserves and bring something fresh to the table, Eggers and his team could have an exciting new vision on their hands.

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