In Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s ridiculously hilarious What We Do in the Shadows there’s a moment that Mr. Clement’s character Vladislav, a kind of sexy rock star ‘Dracula’ looking vampire, describes Vampires obsession with virgins. “I guess it’s like a sandwich, it just tastes better if you know nobody else has fucked it.” After keeling over laughing at the divine straight-faced delivery and nonchalance of Vladislav an internal switch in my mind switched from a standard “this is really funny” setting to the much rarer “wait I am actually witnessing genius.”
What We Do In Shadows is a New Zealand set ‘mockumentary’ about a quartet of different archetypal Vampires living in Wellington and coping with modern life.
Filmmakers Mr. Clement and Mr. Waititi are on writing and directing duty and arrive on the scene in a way that only Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant did when they arrived with The Office. The aesthetic is part way that Gervais/Merchant Office faux-documentary style and part The Osbournes wacky famous family living some kind of ‘normal’ life. The dialogue is an assault delivered with a relaxed confidence that one of ten of the gems they’ve said are set to shine for you. And it’s not just verbal sparring, the cast love a good sight gag or prat fall, poking fun at their subjects and all the tropes you know; and there are several that the characters themselves can’t wait to document for you, like you’re seeing them for the first time.
While the conditions were perfect for comedy, the ensemble absolutely knocks it out of the park. Mr. Waititi’s dandy 1800s vampire Viago; Mr. Clement’s Vladislav the narcissistic Dracula; Jonathan Brugh’s Deacon with tiny vampire syndrome who is constantly trying to out ‘allure’ and dance Vladislav; and the fourth wheel is the little seen, but no less hilarious, Ben Fransham as Petyr (who may as well be Nosferatu). Whether it’s planning a chore roster, going out to a night club, or running into a Were-wolf pack lead by film stealer Rhys Darby; you’re hanging on every exchange. As the support cast chime in especially Cori Gonzalez-Macuer’s modern man Nick, a recently turned vampire wanting to use his ‘cred’ to get chicks or Mr Darby’s impossibly funny were-wolf pack leader coaching his men on how to act when they’re around vampires, you’re going to be sore from laughter.
What We Do In Shadows is an ode to horror and comedy; the best of both worlds.
Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to legacy audio reviews on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.
Directed by: Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
Written by: Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
Starring: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stuart Rutherford, Rhys Darby, Ben Fransham,