An awesome little Gothic comedy about vampire flatmates.
Set in New Zealand, four vampires from different eras live together in one house and, surprisingly, live very mundane and ordinary lives. Holding flat meetings, delegating whose turn it is to wash the dishes, going out on the town, and of course… seducing and killing people by drinking human blood.
Director Taika Waititi is on a lot of people’s radars now due to Marvel Studios taking him on for 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, and while that is only his third major production, What We Do in the Shadows was his first. What a fun little romp it is too, Waititi’s style is truly distinct. A very witty, dry sense of humour.
It makes sense that this would be his first major picture. The film is a re-imagining of a short he made in 2005 What we do in the Shadows: Interviews with some Vampires (a title likely riffing off of Anne Rice) and has repeat casting from that short, including the director himself playing the lead, a houseproud, rather camp vampire called Viago and co-writer/co-director Jemaine Clement playing Vladislav. A vampire much more in-keeping with Bram Stoker’s Dracula style. Jonny Brugh also returns from the short film as the third major vampire, Deacon, who is a more thuggish vampire. Of course, we cannot forget Petyr, the Nosferatu-style vampire living in a tomb in the basement!
It is all about the characters and their antics and their domestic arguments. It is surprising how able Waititi and Clement are as performers, they have a good sense of comedic timing and delivery.
The film is a mockumentary, with handheld cinematography, with a faceless camera crew allowing our vampiric characters to talk about living with each other and bicker at each other like housewives. It is highly entertaining!
What we do in the Shadows is an unorthodox vampire film. While there is some fighting (and even some werewolves) this is all played for laughs and executed with an incredibly humble and down-to-earth manner. Like vampires fighting each other, turning into bats and throwing each other around, only played like drunken friends on a Friday night and not like superheroes.
I was a little surprised that the Twilight reference wasn’t tearing the franchise apart, such as is this film’s fun culture referencing writing style.
While vampire films are really starting to bore me these days, What we do in the Shadows was a simple premise but a fun alternative that brightened my day.