At nearly 100 years old, Nosferatu is arguably one of the most popular vampire films in existence. It's among the earliest horror films and has been referenced in pop culture for decades. And this was my very first time actually watching it.
The story follows a realtor who is sent to an island to meet The Count who is interested in purchasing property in Transylvania. The realtor's head executive suggests trying to sell him the house across the street from his, and so he spends a few nights in The Count's castle to negotiate. The Count (who we soon realize is Nosferatu) haunts the man throughout the nights, and at immediate sight of the realtor's wife in a photograph, buys the property on the spot. He then travels by boat to the mainland while the Realtor falls ill and is sheltered into a local hospital after falling out of a window at the castle.
The film is essentially an adventure film - first showing the journey to the castle, then from the castle back to Transylvania. While aboard a ship in his coffin the entire crew meets their demise and it is written off as a plague rolling into town.
Once the boat hits the land, the propaganda continues as many folk onland begin dying from similar circumstances - which is a fatal illness that leaves two small marks on the neck right next to each other. The last 20 or so minutes of the film revolves on the entire town boarding up their windows and doors while the Realtor finally makes it home and warns his wife who keeps having visions of the deathbird whose on its way. (The deathbird being the name for Nosferatu throughout the folklore in the story).
The film holds up remarkably well. It's a silent film so it's full of intense orchestral music and a handful of written cards with the proper amount of dialogue and exposition that you need to understand. Some of the letters are a little tough to read (hence why I've been referring to the main character as The Realtor... I think his name was Hutter?)
It's a lot of fun and the popular imagery (such as the shadow up the stairwell, him rising from the coffin, and his shadow piercing the heart of his victims) is still effective to this day. It has some creepy images and great acting and deserves all of the praise its received thus far in its life.
For a film that's nearly 100 years old, this is a great example at how effective atmosphere and an interesting story can effectively transcend time.
'Nosferatu' is currently streaming on The Criterion Channel
'Til Next Time, Mike Cleopatra