Robert Eggers’s remake of F.W. Murnau’s incredibly influential expressionist horror Nosferatu has been in the rumour mill for some time. Last August, we discovered that Anya Taylor-Joy (who previously worked with Eggers in The Witch, 2015) was said to be negotiating a starring role in the endeavour, but nothing has come out since. Now, it would appear that the whole thing has been shelved, with Taylor-Joy citing Eggers’s upcoming fantasy-horror The Lighthouse as the reason.
The comments came off the back of promotional activity for Thoroughbreds, a black comedy thriller starring Olivia Cooke, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift and Taylor-Joy, who told EW:
“Right now, Robert is making The Lighthouse, which I could not be more proud of and more excited for … He’s such a brilliant man – other than being a wonderful human being, he’s such a brilliant director. So, hopefully, we will get a chance to make [Nosferatu]”
Egger’s new film is still in pre-production stages and has a release date of 2019, so we can’t expect him to go back to Nosferatu anytime soon – and he might not at all if he doesn’t feel up to it. In a 2016 interview with IndieWire, the director said:
“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.”
This might suggest that his commitment to the film is not absolute, nor is his confidence (and ability) to deliver a faithful reproduction. If true, it’s refreshing to see a director admit such reservations.
Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror was released in 1922 and was an unauthorised adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, released a mere 25 years before. The film’s legacy is outstanding and overwhelming positive; it’s largely considered a masterpiece of the silent era. As critic Roger Ebert once eloquently put it: “the film is in awe of its material… it doesn’t scare us, but it haunts us”.