Director: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Genre: Horror/Comedy, Mockumentary
Recommended for: .Fans of Flight of the Conchords and fans of witty, but gross humor.
The vampire craze is all but sizzled out.Twilight,True Blood and Vampire Diaries are done with their fifteen minutes of fame. But out from the shadows of New Zealand (aka Peter Jackson Island) comes a new comedy from the makers of Flight of the Conchords. Taking the folklore of vampires through the ages and mixing them with zany sitcom situations, What We Do in the Shadows is the perfect screwball comedy for anyone who misses the talents of Jemaine Clement.
The mockumentary starts at 6pm where Viago (played by Taika Waititi) wakes up his fellow vampire flatmates for a meeting at the house. Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) and Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) join him. What do bloodthirsty vampires talk about at a house meeting? Why Deacon wasn’t doing his share of the chore wheel.
“Deacon you haven’t done dishes in five years. I am so embarrassed to bring guests over,” Vladislav complains!
“What does it matter? We kill everyone we bring to the house!” Deacon shouts back.
Viago is the gentleman dandy of the group, making sure everyone’s feelings are heard and rules are complied with. He insists that Deacon uses towels and newspaper if he is going to take his victims on the antique furniture. Deacon is the party guy past his prime. His favorite trick is to give his dinner guests spaghetti and hypnotize them into thinking they are eating worms. Vladislav is the older vampire in the group. He was a master hypnotist until he was humiliated by his arch nemesis, The Beast. The fourth member of the house, Petyr is 8000 years old and rarely leaves his crypt in the basement.
What do these guys do all night? They maintain a flat and go out to dance clubs in Wellington, New Zealand to lure humans to their house. All this while giving reality TV style interviews explaining what it truly means to be a vampire through history.
Their first few months of filming they convert Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) to their brotherhood. Nick thinks its awesome that he can fly and has no problem with telling everyone he sees that he is the guy from Twilight. Once he finds out that he cannot eat chips anymore he thinks it sucks being a vampire.
The vampire trio also loves to harass the werewolf tribe of Wellington. The alpha male of the werewolves (Rhys Darby) is constantly reminding his werewolf brethren to calm down and do their breathing exercises. “We are werewolves not swearwolves,” he tells his followers.
Finally there is Stu (Stuart Rutherford) who is the only human that the vampires adore. Stu barely says anything, but he can do no wrong and is constantly put on a pedestal for being cool.
Violence: It’s supposed to be humorous violence, but that does not decrease the amount of bloodshed. Buckets of blood spurt everywhere in a few scenes. It is very gross. Scenes of trapping people and biting them are consistent throughout. There is one scene where you see a vampire get impaled and another scene you see a person get mauled by a werewolf.
Sex: A few sexually explicit jokes are told in dialogue. Some scenes of vampire orgies are quickly shown. Some lewd sexual scenes, while not explicit, imply someone is doing crude acts. The werewolves get naked when they transform back into humans, but their nakedness is blurred out. It is far below American Pie’s standard of filthy, but it is just enough to earn its R rating.
Language: A handful of F words are used for jokes. You will mostly hear S, AH and D words throughout the movie
Spiritual: The world of WWDITS is littered with witches, zombies and werewolves. These are the players of the undead world. The movie plays with them lightly, not taking their spiritual connotations seriously at all. It’s just a bunch of monsters trying to get along.
What We Do in the Shadows shows us the struggle and the social dilemmas of being a vampire in modern day New Zealand. It’s strength is making Deacon, Vladislav, Nick and Viago the most awkward and uncomfortable people. Their ageless experience through history means they dress in gaudy furs and horrible period costumes in order to fit into the night life. Their vampire tricks are lame, like turning into cats or making someone think they are eating worms. This adds to the comedy gold of watching them struggle to live their lives.
Anyone who is a fan of Flight of the Conchords will see Jemaine Clement’s work here. Whether it is the long drawn out conversations that sound more complicated than they ought to be or the little pieces of dry humor that pop up there is always something that catches you by surprise. The movie has barely grossed a million, but I believe everyone who craves an intelligent laugh needs to see this movie.
The chemistry between the flatmates is pure gold as they make huge emotional deals out of such small tasks. Nick keeps wearing similar shirts to Deacon. The group has a personal vendetta against the werewolves. Stu is loved way more than Nick. This is all in the backdrop of some cheesy special effects that add to the humor.
If you have no appreciation for dark comedies or you are looking for comedy that is closer to Dumb and Dumber you might find this too dry. The story may seem like nothing is getting done if you are used to slapstick. You won’t see Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum getting into hilarious physical hijinx as much as you will see long drawn out conversations filled with ridiculous acting.
There is definitely some rated R parts that are going to keep some cautious watchers from finding this funny, but anyone who loves the work of Jemaine Clement or just wants a witty mockumentary should check it out. This movie is a refreshing booster shot to the comedy world.
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