What We Do in The Shadows
What We Do in the Shadows
2014. Directed by Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi.
A horror comedy mockumentary, What We Do in the Shadows is a lovingly awkward exploration of the vampiric condition. Using a deceptively smart script and a powerhouse ensemble of comedic talent, What We Do in the Shadows is one of, if not the best modern vampire films in recent memory.
Four vampires who are roommates in a New Zealand flat have agreed to allow a film crew to document their nocturnal misadventures. Viago is the crew's anal spokesman, Deacon is the young upstart, Petyr is the inhuman ancient, and Vladislav is a former undead celebrity who craves one more chance at the spotlight. The film chronicles their night to night activities as the cadre prepare to attend an annual gathering of creatures at a masquerade ball. Matters become complicated when an intended victim inadvertently becomes an obnoxiously loquacious vampire and the flatmates unexpectedly befriend a tech savvy human.
Clement and Waititi's script brims with humorous possibilities. Virtually every form of satire is explored and exploited by running the various gags through a vampire filter. The brilliance of this film is that not only does know exactly what it is, it also lets the viewer in on the joke. A surprising amount of care is given to each of the personas within the flat, allowing the audience to build allegiances to their favorite domestic killers, mimicking the world's obsession with reality television programming. Waititi's Viago steals the show, particularly anytime he attempts to feed from a human victim. Clement's Vladislav is perhaps the most endearing to horror fans, but it's his dead pan commitment to the role that makes it completely hysterical anytime he gives a personal interview.
Richard Bluck and D.J. Sipsen's cinematography adequately captures the documentary feel, however the shaky cams during the "chase" scenes can become tiresome. Despite this, the film manages to maintain the arm's length approach in every scene, allowing the viewer to perceive each vampire's comical narcissism for what it is, while the creatures themselves remain ignorant to centuries of contradiction, producing some of the most genuine sequences of farcical mayhem in modern cinema. Amanda's Neale's costume design is lunch line chic, portraying the various children of the night as D list rejects willing to kill for even the slightest amount of recognition. The entire "masquerade ball" has the visual appeal of the costume section at a garage sale and it's perfectly at home in this carnival of horrific absurdity.
Available now for digital rental, What We Do in the Shadows is not only an excellent horror comedy, it's also a flat out fun time at the movies. There's nothing in this film that is going to move mountains, but if you're a vampire fanatic or a film lover who likes their comedy brilliantly self deprecating, then this is a perfect choice for the Halloween season.