Cinema Review – What We Do In The Shadows

What We Do In The Shadows is a mockumentary from one half of Flight of the Conchords Jemaine Clement, and Taika Waititi. The film follows four vampire housemates in Wellington, New Zealand, as they negotiate life together, the world around them and a newcomer brought into their midst.

There have been so many vampire movies in recent years, and so of course there have been spoofs, but What We Do In The Shadows is a completely different beast; Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi have created a film that is awkward, smart and incredibly funny, a film that send up the vampire genre and the vampire myth as a whole, while still managing to be sweet and endearing.

Jemaine Clement is on great form as Vladislav, the self confessed ‘hot one’ of the vampire group. Clement keeps Valdislav at the campy, ridiculous and self involved end of the scale, and his chemistry with the rest of the cast is fantastic. Taika Waititi as Viago is the voice of reason of the group; always trying to mediate and make peace, Viago is a sweet character who believes in love and giving people second chances. Jonathan Brugh makes Deacon the ‘bad boy’ of the group, and the one who almost always tries to stir up trouble, until a newcomer usurps his title. Cori Gonzalez-Macuer and Stuart Rutherford bring the comedy as a vampire/human double act. The chemistry, timing and trust between the central cast is not only endearing, but it is on this that the comedic aspects of the film hinge, and it is why the film works so well as a whole.

Written by Clement and Waititi, What We Do In The Shadows puts the vampires in a documentary style situation and takes a look at the issues that old world, romantic, gothic vampires face in the modern world. Much of the comedy comes from the ensemble dealing with things like the internet and text messaging, but as well as this, their arrogance and pride in their vampiric lifestyle brings a lot of laughs. On the flip side, the vampires explain their lifestyle to their newest vampire friend, and thus to the audience. As well as this, they borrow from The Lost Boys to play tricks on their prey, make reference to Twilight and incorporate just about every angle of vampire folklore – perhaps apart from the sparkling in sunlight, sigh – to make What We Do In The Shadows a self referential, self conscious but very funny piece of work. As directors, Clement and Waititi channel Flight of the Conchords and Waititi’s 2007 film Eagle Vs Shark to capture the awkward, ludicrous but charming energy of the film.

What We Do In The Shadows is an awkward, over the top, self referential and incredibly funny mockumentary, which channels the comedic spirit of The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash and This is Spinal Tap. The central cast are on fantastic form and, while inconsistencies and potential plot holes abound, What We Do In The Shadows is a warm, funny and surprisingly sweet film, and the perfect antidote to some of the more bloodless vampire flicks we have been subjected to lately.

Rating: 4/5

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