What We Do in the Shadows
Director: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Writer: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Cast: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stuart Rutherford, Ben Fransham, Jackie van Beek, Rhys Darby
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard Morrissey.]
A documentary team follows a few flatsharing vampires for a few months. There’s Viago (Taika Waititi), former dandy who tries to have things just so, Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), who was born in the middle ages and misses torturing people, Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), who just wants to have fun, and finally Petyr (Ben Fransham), who is 8.000 years old and lost most of his humanity. Their usual routine between unwashed dishes and trying to be invited into clubs gets disrupted when Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) gets turned into a vampire.
What We Do in the Shadows is not only a love letter to the vampire genre conventions (while simultaneously poking fun at them), it’s also an absolutely fantastic comedy. I was laughing practically the entire time.
What We Do in the Shadows achieves what Knights of Badassdom fails so miserably at: to make fun of something coming from a place of love. Neither the various tropes surrounding vampires nor vampire fans are somehow made smaller in this – instead vampires are made more human and that demystification is what makes the movie so funny, in an extremely fresh way. It’s a world were vampires are neither brooding doom-bringers nor eternally graceful seducers. They’re just people.
And there were so many details that came from the various vampire incarnations before it. Be it Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula or Klaus Kinsky. There is a rivalry with werewolves, of course (it’s one of the most hilarious scenes when they meet for the first time. I was almost crying with laughter). Vampire rules are obeyed but used creatively like the mirror action (spooky teacups, Pacman and dancing all have their place) or the fact that nobody wants to invite them into clubs.
I didn’t like the whole Beast-plotline so much and I would have wished for a central character to be female. Yes, most famous vampires are male but not all of them and it wouldn’t have hurt to have a Carmilla in the appartment.
But with charming characters and warmth, the film more than makes up for those shortcomings. I actually already watched it a second time and I wouldn’t hesitate to watch it a third.