Unless you’ve been hiding in your coffin for last few weeks, you’ll be aware of the latest vampire mockumentary from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. What We Do In The Shadows has received praise from Sundance, Berlin and SXSW Film Festivals, so it’s about time it came home! The film also stars Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Ben Fransham, Stuart Rutherford, Rhys Darby and Jackie Van Beek who make up the mismatch of characters.
The film follows the experiences of a group of undead misfits. Four vampires flatting together in Vellington. They vary in ages from the young and hip, few hundred years old, to the more mature 6000 year old Petyr (Fransham).
Most of the activity is narrated by Viago (Waititi), who has to deal with the rebellious Deacon (Brugh) and sadistic Vladislav (Clement). After an unfortunate encounter with Petyr this colony of vamps gets a new recruit in Nick (Gonzalez-Macuer). Being a ‘fresh’ vampire means that Nick still has living friends ,so introduces Stu to the group. Stu becomes like a human pet, and extremely useful to the night dwelling vampires. All they have to do is agree not to eat him! Stu isn’t the only human in their lives. Deacon has a ‘familiar’ Jackie (Van Beek), whom he has promised to give eternal life. However she is basically his PA, and a frustrated one at that, doing all his chores during the daylight hours.
Just in case Vampires aren’t enough for you ,there is also the welcome addition to the action in Anton (Darby) and his pack of stinky werewolfs. They may be foul smelling (to vampires at least) but they don’t like dirty language!
The film is brilliantly funny, as you would expect with the Kiwi comedy pedigree involved. Using a recognisable documentary format, you are lured into a false sense of security before you realise that there will be horror elements to this story of bloodsuckers. It may surprise some viewers to find a love story in there too.
What makes the ‘Shadows’ so funny is the characters inability to relate to the real world, yet being so firmly placed within it. There are some surprisingly pleasing special effects that add to the scope of the story, and of course some opportunity for extra comedy.
Playing on all the vampire stereotypes: hypnotism, crucifixes, virgins and shape shifting, these eccentric characters are likeable predators with hearts, albeit not beating ones. All they want is to be accepted. I think we can conclude that these guys have won over the world of the living with their unique and quirky tale of vampire ‘life’. It’s an instant vampire-mockumentary-kiwi-classic!
Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar