Review: What We Do in the Shadows

– by C. Eden

What_We_Do_in_the_Shadows_posterWhat We Do in the Shadows is a comedy about Vampires (did I hear you groan and roll your eyes?) Vampires have overtaken our culture a lot lately with films, merchandise, clubs, novels, and TV shows. It was only a matter of time before a group of people got sick of it and showed us another take. In a film that is most definitely low budget and very comedic, there are pleasant surprises and laughs that don’t stop coming.

Four vampires are stuck in present day Wellington, New Zealand find themselves the stars of a documentary about members of secret societies. Each vamp has their own character, no doubt formed through what they lived through while alive. Viago (Taika Waititi) is described as a 17th Century Dandy and dresses with lace collars and tight pants with a sheepish smile forever slapped on his face as he tries fruitlessly to control the others he lives in a share house with.

Add to the mix Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), a sleazy vamp with long luxurious hair who likes the ladies, Petyr (Ben Fransham), an 8000 year old bald pale, Nosferatu with shark-like jaws and of course ,Deacon (Jonny Brugh) the drunken playboy with an unfortunate (for the audience and his flatmates) love of erotic dancing…and things gets crazy.

The four vamps try their hardest to fit in with modern life all the while trying to make space for old school vampire traditions and battling to remain civil with each other during house meetings about who washes dishes and failed nights out – going clubbing is disappointing for them, no bouncer will invite them in.

Jackie (Jackie van Beek) a human servant with a literal death-wish, does anything she can to get in Deacon’s good books so he will change her. Her days are spent arranging girls for the guys to feed on and constantly being frustrated she will be an old woman by the time she is granted immortality and have to live in an old body forever, all the while scrubbing blood spattered floors and washing stained clothes.

Enter Nick (Cori Gonzalez Macuer) a regular guy who isexcited about his new found post-human, immortal state and leaves the audience giggling as he flies, starts fights and tells everyone he meets he is a vampire. He even introduces the 4 older vamps to the wonders of internet porn and other technology they have been missing out on before he introduces a human called “Stu” (Stu Rutherford)to the group.

The movie takes twists and turns that never get boring as the group resist the urge to eat Stu and banter with the local Werewolf population, who are trying to be good citizens, right down to declaring they are Werewolves, not “swear-wolves” when they two groups clash in the street on the way home from a big night out.

This movie is simply fantastic. The laughs do not stop coming. There are many types of humour and something to suit all tastes. Each character is played perfectly and is so unique and different from the others that the audience never loses interest. The chemistry between all characters on screen cannot be denied and the mockumentary comes to life like the real thing, complete with shoddy camera angles, impromptu explanations of arguments that just happened and the general highs and lows cameramen observe while creating a project.

Written and Directed by Taika Watiti and Jemaine Clement (one half of Flight of the Concords), the film runs smoothly and never has a dull moment, testimony to the comedic genius of this combination. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January this year and due for release in Australia September 4 this is a film not to be missed. Get out and see it, there is even a Q and A with Watiti at Luna in Leederville on the 5th September as well as a screening. Certainly one to get involved in, this film is hysterical.

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