With its lack of budget requirements and consistently rabid fanbase, the horror genre often serves as a gateway for up and coming filmmakers to enter the industry at large. Some – such as Wes Craven and John Carpenter – then spend the majority of their careers making genre entries, while occasionally making a detour into other styles of film. Some, like recent success stories James Wan (The Conjuring) and Scott Derrickson (Sinister) eventually cash in their horror cred for a chance at studio blockbusters like the DCEU’s Aquaman and the MCU’s Doctor Strange.
A new entrant into the horror game is Robert Eggers, writer/director of early 2016 horror hit The Witch. While the film’s slow pacing has earned it its fair share of detractors, The Witch’s 17th century tale of suspicion, madness, murder, and possible witchcraft drew critical raves and great word of mouth via festival screenings in 2015. This led to a wide release this past February; and while The Witch hardly broke the bank at the box office, its $40 million worldwide gross on a mere $3 million budget remains quite impressive indeed.
It would appear that Eggers enjoys working in a period setting, as he confirmed during a recent episode of IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit Podcast that his next film will be a remake of the 1922 silent horror classic Nosferatu. Eggers will once again serve as both writer and director on this, only his second feature. A huge fan of the original film, Eggers says that he had not originally planned to go straight from The Witch to remaking a landmark like Nosferatu, and is clearly aware of the challenge he’s undertaking:
“[It’s shocking] to me. It feels ugly and blasphemous and egomaniacal and disgusting for a filmmaker in my place to do ‘Nosferatu’ next. I was really planning on waiting a while, but that’s how fate shook out.”
For those unfamiliar with Nosferatu – although it’s hard to imagine that anyone hasn’t at least seen clips from it, as several scenes have become iconic – the 1922 film was directed by F.W. Murnau, and starred actor Max Schreck as monstrous vampire Count Orlok. The story was a very thinly veiled adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, leading the author’s family to sue. A court ruled that all copies of Nosferatu be destroyed, but thankfully, that obviously didn’t happen. Film historians and scholars generally hold Nosferatu up as one of the most effective horror movies of all time.
Eggers has big shoes to fill in remaking Nosferatu, although he’s not the first director to attempt to do so. In 1979, iconoclastic filmmaker Werner Herzog wrote and directed a stylistic remake called Nosferatu the Vampyre, starring Herzog’s noted foil Klaus Kinski as the titular creature. Nosferatu the Vampyre also became a hit with critics, leaving Eggers even more to live up with his take on the material. Thankfully, The Witch showed that he’s likely more than up to the task.
Robert Eggers’ Nosferatu has no current release date. We’ll let you know when that changes.