It may have passed almost unnoticed last year, but this strange film coming from New Zealand is now gathering a very nice cult-like following. From the awkward minds of Taika Waititi (Eagle vs Shark) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), there comes a film that gives the mockumentary genre a very needed refresh. After the seriousness of I’m Still Here, or the banter of Exit Through the Gift Shop, What we do in the Shadows does the unthinkable – gets a camera crew to follow a group of vampire flatmates.
So we meet Viago (Taika Waititi), Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) and the reclusive Petyr (Ben Fransham), all creatures of the night who are still touched by some humanity regarding whose time is it to do the dishes, what to dress on a night out in town and, of course, relationships. Their blood-thirsty existence is shaken when a feeding night goes wrong and Petyr makes a vampire out of Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) who, like any good 21st century boy, cannot resist telling everyone that he is now “the guy from Twilight”. That, and his best human friend Stu will soon put some unwanted attention on the vampire lair (that, and the documentary cameras following them around, of course)… Add a group of strangely polite werewolves, Jackie, who irons and does their laundry (fueled by Deacon’s promise of turning her into a vampire), and The Beast, and you’re in.
Think vampire film spoof meets The Office, and you will have a great idea of what kind of animal we’re dealing with here. The best moments may be in the trailer – so avoid watching for best enjoyment – but it’s still an enjoyable ride. The only failure, so to speak, is that after all the build-up about the Unholy Masquerade Ball, it ended up being a very quick and mundane affair. In a sense, it is a one hour and a half running gag – how does it feel to be a vampire in a flat-share in Wellington -, with a timid resemblance of character arch with the appearance of modern vampire Nick, and with him all modern tech and fun. Though we are very sure vampire selfies (or photos, for that matter), are very much against vampire mythology.
Still, in a year that was not that prolific in comedies, What we do in the Shadows can be a great fix, despite its lack of proper weirdness. For sure the most quotable film of the year after Grand Budapest Hotel – “We’re Werewolves, not Swear-Wolves” – it does deserve a quick neck bite.
What We Do in the Shadows was released in UK cinemas on Nov 21. It is now available to watch on VOD at www.whatwedointheshadows.com