Follow the lives of Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) – three flatmates who are just trying to get by and overcome life’s obstacles-like being immortal vampires who must feast on human blood
‘What We Do In The Shadows‘ is a mockumentary about a group of vampires living in Wellington, New Zealand, and it’s pretty great fun, particularly in a genre that’s not exactly been short of ‘different takes’ on the vampire lifestyle. The film was written by Jemaine Clement (of Flight of the Conchords fame) and Taika Waititi, who both star as 2 of 4 vampires residing in an old house together. The film plays nicely with vampire stereotypes, whilst also mining a lot of comedy gold from the flatsharing setting and in how the characters interact with the real world. (Before seeing this, I’d never have pondered how a vampire could get into a nightclub!)
Clement and Waititi have clearly been influenced by the works of Christopher Guest, with seminal piece ‘This Is Spinal Tap‘ the one that looms largest, and they find a terrific balance of one-liners, sight gags and a bit of slapstick that keep the pace moving along and the jokes coming. Waititi is the strongest performer, with his Viago the straight man to the more outlandish vampires in the ensemble, and his deadpan expression works to great effect in one of the best jokes of the film.
The film gets good value out of encounters with the normal residents of Wellington, but also with the gang’s encounters with fellow supernatural creatures (culminating in a festival at the end which is the ‘purpose’ behind the documentary). The encounters with a gang of werewolves (led by Rhys Darby) are particularly terrific. At 85 minutes long, the film breezes by, and this is one of the funniest and most unexpected pleasures of the year. Highly recommended
Directed By: Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement
Starring: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jonathan Brugh, Ben Fransham, Jackie Van Beek, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford and Rhys Darby