Shadow of the Vampire stars John Malkovich and Willem DaFoe as director F.W. Murnau and the star of his movie Max Schreck, respectively. Murnau is making an "homage" to Dracula (because the family of Bram Stoker won't sell him the rights to the book) and, wanting authenticity, he hires an actual vampire, played by DaFoe. Things go...awry when Shreck demands the lead actress of the film be his payment following the production.
Sometimes very funny, I thought the concept was original enough to keep my attention. The film never felt obvious or generic to me in where the story was going. I thought the supporting cast, including Catherine McCormack as Greta, and Eddie Izzard (yes, THAT Eddie Izzard, Ness) as Gustav, actors in the film within a film were great. Malkovich played...well, every other character Malkovich always plays. If I were to have one complaint about the film, it would be that it was dark. Real dark. I get that the film is supposed to take place at night, but for the most part I wouldn't call the movie as suspense-filled film. Babaloo and I watched this movie in the dark at night and I still had a hard time making out what was going on sometimes. Had we watched this film during the day, or in a well lit room, I don't know how we would have seen anything.
The standout here is DaFoe. It is clear why he was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as the vampire Schreck/Nosferatu. Ghoulish, he chews up the scenery in a way that is compelling, sometimes very funny (on purpose), and with wild abandon. You can see that he really dove head first into this role, and you can see the beginnings of his portrayal of the Green Goblin in the Spider Man movies here. Even if you don't like horror movies (which I can barely count this one as), then you should see Shadow of the Vampire for Dafoe's performance alone.
I'm giving Shadow of the Vampire 3 stars and half a bag of popcorn.