What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows photo starrating-4stars.jpgWhat We Do in the Shadows is a mock documentary about Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr, four vampires who share a flat in New Zealand. Viago (Taika Waititi) is the most affable. He’s a bit of a neat freak as well. Viago laments that the others don’t put down newspaper in the house before a kill. A regular dandy, he is the sophisticate of the clan. At a mere 183 years, Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) is the baby of the group. A rebel “bad boy” who sleeps upside down in a closet. Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) carries himself like a sexy rock star. His explanation as to why vampires prefer virgins is hands down the funniest line I’ve heard in a long time. If there is an odd man out in this clique it would be 8,000-year-old Petyr who recalls Nosferatu. His incongruous presence next to the other 3 is the source of several laughs. The production was written and directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi who also star. The two have worked together before on Flight of the Conchords, the HBO series which Clement stars with Bret McKenzie.

The routine tribulations of being a vampire in modern New Zealand is profiled. By day they are holed up in the secluded enclave of their apartment. By night the four bachelors prowl the streets looking for people on which to feast. It pokes fun of the clichés of vampire lore and celebrates them in the process. Much of the humor is extracted from their often banal existence and matter-of-fact regard that other people have to their existence. Even after the gang has turned another victim (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) into a vampire, the guy insists on bringing his best buddy along who still remains a human. Deacon also keeps a human servant named Jackie (Jackie Van Beek), a housewife who bemoans the fact that he has not turned her into a vampire.

What We Do in the Shadows contains horror elements with moments of bloody gore mixed with an overall sense of lighthearted comedy. A surprising amount of warmth surfaces amongst this pseudo family of sorts. It isn’t a movie in the traditional sense. That is, it doesn’t present a self contained story. It’s more of a series of gags strung together. That might irk some. However the account is so brief (86 minutes) that the lack of a strong narrative isn’t a problem. The unique mix is somewhat odd, but it generally works. An apt point of reference would be the documentary This Is Spinal Tap, except well ya know it’s about vampires instead of rock musicians. The script has a very high ratio of jokes that really tickle the funny bone. Although the loosely constructed picture doesn’t immediately feel like a comedic classic, it’s solidly written. Repeat viewings should give this a longevity that will make it an enduring cult movie for many years to come.

03-03-15

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19 Responses to “What We Do in the Shadows”

  1. Four stars. Okay, this thing I officially need to see. 😄

    • When I posted the OFCS awards back in December, you commented on this film because it was listed in the Best Non-U.S. Release category. Thank goodness it finally got that release!

      • Saw it last night. Really enjoyed it. And dually noted about that comment about why vampires prefer virgins. Such a good line.

  2. A funny movie. But also one that does have some degree of heart to it that works well. Nice review Mark.

  3. This sounds really good! I wasn’t taken by Only Lovers Left Alive, although I liked the idea. I really wanted something more real and humourous – I guess my prayers have been answered!

  4. Good stuff, Mark. We’re in total agreement here. 4 stars for me as well and it was by far the funniest film from last year. Genuine laughs all the way through. I loved it.

    • There was some doubt as to whether this would get a release in the U.S. It’s only playing in 46 theaters at the moment but so glad it’s finally here.

  5. Absolutely loved this film, one of the better comedies to be released in recent years. Completely agree with your last line regarding repeat viewings showcasing the films longevity. There are so many great gags in the film that it takes several viewings to catch them all.

  6. This movie is so much fun. I particularly loved Stu and how he barely says a word but somehow expresses so much.

  7. After seeing it a second time, I liked it a lot. Petyr was my favorite. There were just enough special effects to make it seem realistic. Very cleverly written lines. 3 1/2 stars

  8. I must have watched this at least 5 or 6 times now. It’s just too good not to. The scene where the police turn up has me in stitches every time.

  9. I love horror movies and I can appreciate a good mockumentary, so I think I’ll dig What We Do in the Shadows when I finally have a chance to check it out. If it’s anything at all like Spinal Tap or Best in Show, I’m certain I’ll have fun.

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