“If you are going to eat a sandwich, you would just enjoy it more if you knew no one had fucked it.” Vladislav the Poker.
Before I sink my teeth into the meat of this review, there is something that I wish to make clear – if you don’t find What We Do In The Shadows funny, you are not my kind of people. There I said it.
This horror comedy utilizes a documentary crew to follow a group of European Vampires living in a flatting situation in Wellington, New Zealand in the lead up to The Unholy Masquerade, a ball held every few years by a supernatural society.
All of the vampiric archetypes are here, Viago the 18th century dandy, Deacon the 183 years young bad boy, Vladislav the torture loving seducer, and Petyr the 8000 year old Nosferatu alike. The plot is driven by the fallout from the turning of Wellington resident Nick. For all of the positives Nick brings to the gang, such as technology, entrance into hot local nightlife that previously eluded them,and an introduction to the reddest man you have ever seen, Stu, he also brings chaos to the household. Petty squabbles about chores, turn to jealous bat fights and the breaking of their well worn codes, eventually leading Nick to be the victim of the worst, not to mention hilarious, punishment that can be meted out to a vampire.
If you like your vampires evil, then you are in luck. If you like them to be cool, you are not. The guys revel in the sport of murder, with only Viago lamenting how unfortunate their blood lust is, over the backdrop of a particularly messy kill. They like to toy with their prey and the film is not shy of blood jets. On the flip side their inability to cross a threshold without human invitation, leaves them impotent and begging on the pavement.
As a fan of the genre I loved the nods to Vampire lore lovingly poked fun at – crap transmogrification, the difficulty of choosing an outfit without having a reflection, that despite all of their years they have not mastered their chosen musical instruments, hypnosis used to varying degrees of success, and a direct reference to The Lost Boys ” Please Nick, eat some basghetti”.
As this film comes from the minds of Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), and Taika Waititi (Eagle vs Shark), its hardly surprising that most of the dialogue is improvised and to great comedic effect. Clement himself seems born to play the horny Vladislav, yet there is someone who outshines the whole cast – Rhys Darby (Murray, Flight of the Conchords). He is fantastic as the Alpha male of the local Werewolf pack, spouting memorable slogans- ” What are we, Werewolves not swearwolves”, to keep his guys under control and generally playing Dad. The childish spat between the Vamps and Wolves had me howling (too on the muzzle?) with laughter. The Wolves also get a brief, but satisfying transformation scene in the latter part of the film.
As the night of The Unholy Masquerade ball arrives, we are introduced to an array of ghouls, zombies that are fighting stereotypes, witches that…well the witches get absolutely no focus, but who cares? There is a tense but funny as hell stand off between our beloved gang and the other ball goers as they realize that there is a human in their midst, which among the laughs serves as a reminder of just how dangerous a supernatural underbelly un-living in your town could be.
Infinitely quotable, hysterically funny, What We Do In The Shadows is a loving homage to the genre. I have such a fondness for this film, to the point that I actually backed the Kickstarter campaign to get the film a wider release across the US. I have bugged the shit out of everybody that I know to go and see this film. I will bug the shit out of you to see this film. With rumors of a sequel and also of a Werewolf spin off called What We Do In The Moonlight (fingers crossed), this film implores you to watch it with the voice of Vladislav ” Seeeeeee meeeeeee.”
What We Do In The Shadows