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The film that Robert Eggers says "invents horror movies"


If there are a few directors that should be held accountable for triggering the modern renaissance of the horror genre, American filmmaker Roberg Eggers should certainly be amongst the mix. Directing the moody folk tale The Witch in 2015, Eggers followed up his debut with 2019s The Lighthouse starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, consolidating his fondness for grubby horror filmmaking. 

Bringing compelling darkness to contemporary cinema, Robert Eggers shows no signs of ceasing his creativity either, with The Northman due to hit cinemas in 2022, a tale about a young Viking prince who seeks revenge for his father’s murder. Flirting with the fantasy of Norse mythology, judging by the first trailer, Eggers’ latest epic looks to be a mind-blowing cinematic experience. 

Written by Eggers and the famous Icelandic screenwriter of the A24 horror film Lamb, Sjón, the brand new film from the director of The Witch appears to be infused with the same intrigue and beauty of his previous projects. Featuring the likes of Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Anya Taylor-Joy, The Northman may be the first of Eggers’ films to truly transition into the cultural mainstream. 

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Having learned from the very best in his ascendance to the top of feature filmmaking, Eggers has been inspired by the pioneering legends of the horror genre including John Carpenter, Wes Craven and F. W. Murnau. Despite the genre growing from strength to strength since the work of Murnau in the 1920s, Eggers still looks to his 1922 masterpiece, Nosferatu as one of his favourite films of all time. 

In conversation with Rotten Tomatoes, Eggers discusses his love of Nosferatu and the German filmmaker F. W. Murnau, stating: “He’s responsible for some of the best images in cinema of all time, from Nosferatu to Faust to Sunset. His work was so influential that filmmakers generations later can be referencing Murnau without knowing it”. Whilst indeed Murnau made several classic films, it is only Nosferatu that Eggers holds so significantly dear.

“There are horror movies before it, obviously — Nosferatu invents horror movies. The editing of the parallel story together in some ways invents cinema,” Eggers gushes, heralding the film for sparking the cultural obsession with cinema’s most terrifying genre. 

Robert Eggers is quite right too, with Nosferatu being one of the first and most significant horror movies ever made, going on to influence such filmmakers as Werner Herzog, John Carpenter and William Friedkin. Even in modern cinema, the influence of F. W. Murnau can be seen, with Nosferatu-like imagery being utilised in films such as Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and even 2018s Slender Man.