Written and directed by the team who brought us Flight of the Concords, Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi, What We Do In the Shadows is a vampire comedy movie at it’s core, but unlike others of the genre, like Dracula: Dead & Loving It or Stan Helsing, this is a lower budget and more independent film that plays things straight in many ways, acting as a faux documentary in style.
The basis premise of the film is that a documentary crew set out to make a movie on the lives of four vampires who live together in a flat in New Zealand. They follow the vampire antics of them, but also show the other side of the coin, and how they cope with life in the modern age, as well as the frustration of house-sharing among each other.
The film is done really well and is laugh out loud funny on a regular basis. We have the main characters; Vladislav (Clement), a traditional vampire who could once control the minds of his victims, but has found himself unable to do that and so ends up tapping on windows to get the attention of his possible walking meal. Vaigo (Waititi), the friendly one of the group who tries to lighten situations with his smile and his camp traits. Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) who is the more punk-rock-hearted of the three, who likes to throw caution to the wind, and doesn’t like to wash pots. Then there is Petyr (Ben Fransham), an 8000 year old vampire who lives in the cellar and looks like Nosferatu, and lacks the modern attitudes and ability to blend in that his three friends have. The crew follow them as they go to vampire night-clubs which they have to go to because normal night clubs wont invite them inside, and so they cannot enter. We watch as they bicker over house chores, and how the “chore-wheel” has been an ineffective way of helping the issue. There is also the story of Deacon biting and creating a new vampire who attempts to become part of the group, while inviting his human friend, Stu (Stuart Rutherford) with him, regardless of danger. It results in some very funny moments, as the vampires prefer the human friend to the new vampire himself.
I am not familiar with Flight of the Concords in the sense that I haven’t seen the show, but I had a lot of fun with this film. It offers nods at hammer horror and classic monster films, as well as the more modern of cinema, including a very funny joke aimed at the Twilight series of books/films. It’s gory too, which works really well with the dark and absurd comedy. One moment in particular see’s Vaigo attempt to bite into the neck of a female victim, but hits an artery and causes blood to spray in all directions, as he tries to catch the flying liquid in his mouth. Moments like this are hilarious, and the film isn’t lacking on quantity when it comes to well written and staged jokes.
Vampire films are overdone in many ways, but this was a very fresh feeling way of going about doing a new one. Horror fans, new and old, will get a sure-fire kick out of this, but it should also appeal to people who just want a good hearty chuckle. Vampires, Cops, Werewolves, Parties, Clubbing and Spaghetti, just a number of the reasons to watch this film, and I urge you to do so. It’s rare when a genre specific comedy hits so many notes as successfully as this one did. Brilliant stuff.