Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame didn’t really need to prove to anyone that he knows how to write comedy, but low and behold, he’s done it again in What We Do In the Shadows. He and fellow comedy expert Taika Waititi make an unstoppable team as they direct, write and star in this mockumentary about a secret vampire society hiding themselves in the one place you’d never expect to find them: New Zealand. Viago (Taika Waititi) has allowed us a very exclusive insight into the lives of he and his three vampire flatmates; Petyr (Ben Fransham), an 8000 year old vampire with a terrifying demeanor, Deacon (Jonathon Brugh), who never contributes to the household chores, and Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), the (questionably) “sexy” vampire who has an affinity for virgin blood. We follow their nights as they stalk their next victims on the streets of Wellington, confront their arch enemies in the werewolf pack, and bicker about Deacon neglecting to do the dishes for five years. They are just your average vampires, trying to make their way through the world without drawing too much attention to themselves.
There is only one word needed to describe this film: hilarious. Clement and Waititi are the masters of deadpan humour, creating comedy through these characters who think they’re the height of cool, when really they are hysterically awkward. As hard as they try, not a whole lot goes right for this coven of vampires, much to the audience’s delight. The writing is witty and original, and combined with perfect comedic timing from the leading cast, makes for some real laugh-out-loud moments that will have the entire cinema audience in stitches.
There are a lot of other aspects that contribute to the success of this film as well. The documentary-style is upheld brilliantly throughout, and includes interviews with the characters, images and histories collected from their long pasts, and that classic documentary-esque soundtrack. The set and costumes were also incredibly well designed and utilised every possible image you could think of when it comes to vampires without fashion sense. But most of all it was the way the writers constructed the vampire myth with the most stereotypes possible that was most amusing. These vampires slept in coffins and only arose at night in fear of the sun, they had no reflection, they could fly, they could transform into bats (or any other creature for that matter), they had hypnosis powers and could only enter a place if they were invited in. These were just some of the traits of a modern vampire that came together in a hilariously chaotic mix that caused quite a few problems in their day-to-day life (how are they supposed to get dressed to go clubbing if they can’t see their reflection?!).
I thoroughly enjoyed myself for the majority of this film, and only found that the ridiculousness took over a little too much towards the very end. But the daily life of a New Zealand vampire proved to be a very interesting, hugely engaging and extremely entertaining watch, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a laugh.
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