What We Do In The Shadows-***1/2 (Out Of *****)
Two-thirds of the creative team behind Flight Of The Conchords teamed up to bring us this mockumentary about vampires living in Wellington. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi share duties both writing and directing, and do a great job of keeping the pace nice and easy. With tales of the supernatural, I find that some films try to over explain things to get you to buy in. Here they just let the vampires speak for themselves.
The story concerns four flat mates, all vampires, living together for the past 60-70 years. The comedy of day-to-day life for a nocturnal bloodsucker hasn’t really been looked at before, but there’s plenty to laugh at in this short but satisfying film.
Friction in the house picks up when a newly turned vampire named Nick comes to stay. Many laughs come from Nick’s naïvité in his newfound life (or death, I guess).He gets them in to a party at a club and causes the gang some trouble that leads to even more in the days to come. If that weren’t enough they also have to contend with a gang of werewolves led hilariously by Rhys Darby.
There is some effort made to give these characters three dimensions. Vladislav, the vampire played by Clement, has lost some of his mojo after being defeated by The Beast and wants desperately to get it back. Waititi’s character, Viago, came to New Zealand to follow his love Katherine.
Then there’s Jackie, one of the films most bizarre characters. She’s a housewife and mother who also happens to be a servant to one of the flat mates who promised her eternal life. After she takes the kids to school she spends her time picking up dry cleaning, arranging victims to bring over to the house, and getting blood stains out of the bathroom.
It’s all a bit absurd, which is why some will love the movie and others will loathe it. I found it funny enough to recommend to like-minded individuals. If you enjoy the kid of dry, deadpan humor Clement and Waititi are known for, by all means give this a shot.
What We Do In The Shadows played a good deal of the film festival circuit in 2014, and gets a regular release in the U.S. on February 13th.