“Nosferatu,” directed by F.W. Murnau and first released in 1922, was one of the first vampire films. “Nosferatu” was also a silent film, so the allusion is a fitting one for “Hush.”
Despite the title, the vampire in “Nosferatu” is actually called Count Orlok (Max Schreck), a thinly veiled depiction of Dracula renamed to (unsuccessfully) avoid a lawsuit from the Bram Stoker estate. Orlok was bald, with pointed ears, claw-like fingernails, and implicitly pale skin (to see how the vampire would look in color, check out Werner Herzog’s 1973 “Nosferatu” remake starring Klaus Kinski). “Buffy” had already aped Orlok’s general look for season 1 Big Bad, The Master (Mark Metcalf), so the show returning to this well wasn’t surprising. The Gentlemen lack Orlok’s elfen ears and they smile instead of frowning, but they share his thick black eyebrows and pointed teeth. There’s also the matter of how they move.
One of the most famously creepy shots in “Nosferatu” is the vampire walking upstairs, shown only in shadow with an outstretched claw. The mood of that shot is mirrored midway through “Hush,” with a prolonged sequence of the Gentlemen floating through the streets of Sunnydale, the only sound being Christophe Beck’s eerie score. Olivia (Phina Oruche) glimpses one of them through the window, before a jump scare of another passing right by. The sequence then cuts to a close-up of a Gentleman’s hand curled in a claw shape — Whedon recounts that he directed actor Don Lewis to “Give me Nosferatu on the hand.”