What We Do In The Shadows – Review

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Imagine if Christopher Guest made mockumentary about Vampires.

When you think of Jemaine Clement the first thing you think of is Flight of the Conchords and his partnership with Bret McKenzie. However Clement has also worked a lot with writer/director Taika Waititi. Waititi not only directed several Conchords episodes, but Clement starred in his first feature film Eagle vs Shark as well. Clement and Waititi have teamed up again for What We Do In The Shadows, a hilarious film that can best be described as a Christopher Guest style mockumentary about the lives of vampires living in New Zealand.

Viago (Waititi), age 379, is the vampire that leads the viewer through the narrative. He explains to the camera crew (who are all wearing crucifixes for protection) what life is like for these ancient vampires living in modern times. Viago has three flatmates: Vladislav, age 862 (Clement), Deacon, age 183 (Jonathan Brugh) and Petyr, age 8000 (Ben Fransham). Petyr looks like a classic Nosforatu vampire and spends most his time hiding in the basement.

Things change for this bunch when Petyr turns on of their dinners into a fellow vampire. Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) isn’t quite accepted into the group at first, but he starts helping them adapt to the modern era, which they like. Nick introduces the group to his human friend, Stu (Stu Rutherford), who they all like instantly and promise not to eat.

The films shows their day-to-day struggles of dealing with sunlight, deciding who is going to wash the dishes, avoid fights with the local werewolf group, led by Anton (Rhys Darby), (“We’re werewolves, not swearwolves”, Anton reminds his guys.) and everything in between. The film is first and foremost a comedy and while it never delves into the scary realm that it maybe could have, it does get pretty gory a few times, all played for laughs. Like when Viago is eating a woman and he hits a main artery so blood starts spraying everywhere.

One of the real fun things about the film is that while it is presented as a documentary and seems very simple and low budget, the special effects are actually very good. The vampires fly around at will and turn into bats and other creatures of the night. At one point Deacon and Nick get into a bat fight. There is also the scene where the werewolves transform by the light of the fool moon. All of these things are done very effectively adding to the over all “realness” of the documentary feel.

As stated earlier, Waititi directed the film and he and Clement wrote the script and they both did a fantastic job. The humor in this film is, at times, very subtle, but it will still leave you laughing out loud all the way through. Which, while I’m on the subject, stay to the end of the credits, there is a good little joke hiding there.

As someone who contributed to the kickstarter for this film, I have to say I was very happy to see where my money went, unlike The Canyons, which frankly is kind of embarrassing to admit I helped kickstarter that one. Well, you win some and you lose some, and with What We Do In The Shadows everybody wins.


Director: Taika Waititi
Notable Cast: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Rhys Darby
Writer:Taika Waitit, Jemaine Clement

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