"It will cost you sweat and tears, and perhaps... a little blood."
I would probably give this film 5 stars if I were to base it on appreciation for how it influenced many films during the silent era and served as a landmark for the horror genre. F.W. Murnau played a key role in the German Expressionist movement and Nosferatu is one of its greatest examples. This movement went on to influence other great directors such as Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock especially in the way they played with shadows and lighting to express the emotions of their characters and enhance the mood of their films. This silent film might have scared audiences in the 20's, but it is really outdated and I struggled to maintain my interest in the story. I have to give it credit for shaping modern horror films today and also influencing the film noir genre, but no matter how much I appreciate it, Nosferatu was far from entertaining for me. One of my favorite things about this film was Count Orlok's makeup which was really creepy, along with how Murnau used the lighting and played with shadows to build the suspense. Those moments were great, but the story really didn't lead up to much and Orlok got very little screen time. I'd personally recommend watching those brief scenes instead of sitting through the entire film. The film uses a lot of title cards and they leave them on screen for so long you could practically read everything twice. There is no denying this was a masterpiece, but I had a hard time sticking with it.
The screenplay was written by Henrik Galeen, heavily stealing from its source material, Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula. In Nosferatu we are first introduced to a real estate agent named Knock (Alexander Granach) who is sending his associate, Hutter (Gustav von Wagenheim) to Count Orlak's (Max Schreck) castle in Transylvania. Orlak is looking to buy a house in Wisbourg, and Knock is considering selling him the home next to Hutter's. Hutter realizes this is a great opportunity to make some money so he leaves his wife, Ellen (Greta Schröder), with some friends while he embarks on the long journey. Along the way several people warn him about the strange events that occur at night near Orlak's castle, but he continues on. Once he reaches the castle, he has an awkward conversation with Orlak and when he accidentally cuts his finger he realizes that Orlak is in fact a Nosferatu (vampire). When Orlak sees a picture of Ellen he quickly decides to buy the new home and is shipped to Wisbourg in a coffin. On the way back several crew members of the ship mysteriously die and some sort of plague seems to have reached the city. Hutter and Ellen know what's really going on, but the question is wether or not they can stop this evil creature.
Nosferatu is all about the eerie atmosphere that Murnau managed to create with a very low budget. It turned away from the standard action-adventure and comedy films of the silent era by creating something unique and exploring such emotions as fear and suspense. Most contemporary horror films probably have to credit Murnau for being a landmark film and setting the stage for them. Nosferatu is a gothic stylized film that has influenced the way we view cinema today so we owe Murnau a lot of gratitude for his work. Unfortunately films are subjective and despite my appreciation for this film I did not enjoy it as much as other film lovers. I did like the cast and the editing however, but the pacing of the film was what I had issues with.