What We Do In The Shadows

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Directors: Taiki Waititi, Jermaine Clement.
Screenplay: Jermaine Clement, Taiki Waititi.
Starring: Jermaine Clement, Taiki Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stuart Rutherford, Ben Fransham, Jackie van Beek, Rhys Darby, Elena Sejko, Simon Vincent, Cohen Holloway, Duncan Sarkies, Aaron Lewis, Jason Hoyte, Karen O’Leary, Mike Minogue.

“Yeah some of our clothes are from victims. You might bite someone and then, you think, ‘Oooh, those are some nice pants'”.

Anyone familiar with the little independent, Antipodean comedy Eagle vs Shark or the cult TV series Flight of the Conchords will happen to find themselves on comfortable ground with What We Do In the Shadows as the co-creators of these works, Taiki Waititi and Jermaine Clement collaborate again to deliver one the most genuinely funny comedies for some time.

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There’s a big event for the undead in Wellington, New Zealand called ‘The Unholy Masquerade’ and upon the day, a documentary film crew are allowed access to film a bunch of vampires as they share their experiences and what everyday life is like for these creatures of the night.

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Fly on the wall mockumentaries is a format that been done many times before. The TV series The Office has had great success in recent times and the likes of Rob Reiner’s This is Spinal Tap has made a lasting impression on people since it’s release in 1984. However, Waititi and Clement have came up with a new (and strangely obvious) idea on how to gain more mileage from this particular style of filmmaking. Why has no one tapped into the lore and dark myths of vampires and used it for laughs? Granted, some films like Vampire’s Kiss in 1989 had an outrageous Nicolas Cage using his couch as a coffin and (famously) eating live cockroaches and Roman Polanski’s 1967 film The Fearless Vampire Killers has now found cult status but vampire’s, probably now more than ever, are in very hot demand what with the Twilight movies and HBO’s True Blood. We can’t seem to get enough of them but we’re still taking them all very seriously. As a result, this film comes at a perfect time.

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For a project of this nature to work, though, you have to be up on your vampire knowledge and the pop-culture surrounding them. By this, I mean from Bram Stoker to Anne Rice; Blade to The Lost Boys and not forgetting Nosferatu along the way. You also have to be open to the ways and needs of a vampire’s existence. If you are all of the above, then sit back and allow this film to sink it’s teeth in and deliver it hilariously satirical comedy.

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First and foremost, the characters are brilliantly written and every one of the actors deliver brilliant performances. Each of our vampires have their own style (or lack of, as the case may be); we have the 379 year old Viago (Taika Waititi), the dandy gent of Anne Rice lore. 183 year old Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), the cool rock star type a la The Lost Boys. 862 year old Vladislav (Jermaine Clement) who riffs on Bram Stoker’s work and 8,000 year old Petyr (Ben Fransham), hiding in his darkened room and resembling the Max Schreck of Nosferatu.

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As they co-habit and flat share, they argue about domestic duties and who’s turn it is to do the dishes (Deacon hasn’t done them in five years) while anal-retentive Viago would like his flatmates to give some consideration for the decor and furnishings by putting newspapers down before feasting on their victims as the arterial spray can cause quite a mess. They even knit a scarf for their human friend who they all agree not to feed on. It’s these exchanges with each other that provide genuine laughs and as they scour the New Zealand night scene for “food” they must rely on doormen to invite them into nightclubs as they can’t enter on their own accord and have run-in’s with the local Werewolves who are so gentlemanly and well mannered that they don’t want to be known as Swearwolves.

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Admittedly, there are periodic lulls but, thankfully, they’re brief and when the laughs are delivered they can be genuinely side splitting. I can often be very critical of both horror and comedy as I often find that they either try too hard or simply don’t have the material but What We Do In the Shadows really hits the spot with sharp and observant humour.

A hugely successful medley of a filmmaking style and pop-culture sub-genre that is, without a doubt, one of the silliest and funniest films of 2014.

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Mark Walker

Trivia: The hill where the vampires have a run-in with the werewolves is the same hill where the scenes were filmed in “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” where Frodo and the hobbits are running and hiding from the Ring-Wraith under the roots of a tree.

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48 Responses to “What We Do In The Shadows”

  1. Recently saw the trailer for this and thought it a hoot. Must catch this once it gets a release date (outside of film fests) in the U.S. Fine review, Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wasn’t familiar with this one but I’m completely on board now. Sounds fantastic. And the images really grabbed me. I’ll keep my eyes open for this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You should definitley stick this on your watch list, man. I realise it’s nit a major release but it certainly deserves attention. Without doubt, the funniest film of 2014. It was absolutely hilarious and I normally criticise comedies for their lack of ideas. This had plenty going on. Such a brilliant little film.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s what excites me. I love comedies but if I find one or two smart and funny comedies in a year it’s a miracle. The comedy genre is in the tanks right now. I’m always excited to hear about something good.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I echo those feelings, man, but trust me… this little flick has the goods. Such a playful and gentle approach to a sub-genre that is normally dark and depraved. Thats where it finds it’s mileage and it works wonders!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Dude this movie looks so hilarious. I cannot WAIT until we get it here. That is, *if* we get it. I’m sure we will. WWDITS has been making some significant waves the world over. Nice write-up on it, too. A 4 out of 5 was actually higher than I was anticipating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you do get a chance eventually. When you do, grab it. The critics and viewers alike have been praising this film for very good reason. Its an absolute hoot! Cult satus is assured and I even considered a higher rating!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Weird, but I love Jemaine Clement.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Mate I am fully in agreement with you. I haven’t watched many comedies of late but despite those occasional lulls this was hands down the funniest thing I saw in 2014. The quality of the gags is high but I liked the fact there are loads of well-observed little moments here and there, like when they are watching videos of sunrises on YouTube. Glad to see the word being spread on this one, it’s destined to be a cult classic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hands down the funniest, mate. I was genuinely surprised how funny it turned out to be. Like you say, it seemed to have all the little details covered. A destined cult classic for sure. Can’t wait to see it again, to be honest.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. daveackackattack Says:

    Easily the funniest movie I saw last year Mark. I liked it even better than Flight of the Conchords. To be honest I’m not a big vampire movie fan other than maybe Let The Right One In. Werewolf? Ginger Snaps. Frankenstein? Young Frankenstein. Zombies? Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead. I guess when it comes to horror monsters comedies do it for me. I don’t even know how to explain the genius of Bruce Campbell in The Evil Dead II… which may be my favorite of all. How about… “groovy!”.

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    • Bruce Campbell is the king of horror comedy, man. I must check out Ginger Snaps. I haven’t seen that and completely forgot all about it.

      This was definitely the funniest film of last year for me too. Really good stuff and I now have Flight of the Conchords and Eagle vs Shark to watch too.

      Like

      • daveackackattack Says:

        Ginger Snaps might be the coolest credit sequence ever! The sequels are rubbish though.

        Director John Fawcett and writer Karen Walton are also behind Orphan Black too.

        Like

      • Ha! That’s certainly a title sequence to grab your attention. Cheers Dave!
        I had no idea Fawcett was involved in Orphan Black.

        Ginger Snaps is on my list… πŸ˜‰

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  7. Jermaine Clement is a pretty funny guy! I don’t like horror but this does sound like a hoot and I’ve actually seen a number of vampire flicks like Interview w/ the Vampire and even the silly Dracula 2000 (starring our boy Gerry Butler as the prince of darkness, ahah!) so I’d probably enjoy this one. Great stuff Mark!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not massive on horror either, Ruth, but I always enjoy a good vampire flick and this sends that sub-genre up brilliantly. It’s genuinely funny stuff. Best comedy of last year, without a doubt!

      Like

  8. I lived in NZ for about six months and the humour in this speaks to the way people are in that country. You can’t beat funny horror!

    Like

  9. My favourite character was Stu. He barely said a word but somehow his presence made every scene funnier.

    Like

  10. Ah man, I really wanted to see this! Really glad it’s decent, definitely want to catch up with this. Got me excited for it!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Nice review Mark, looks really funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Haha, those guys are fantastic!!! Great post, Mark and a very very nice recommendation πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So great to read another positive review of this!! This aired over here back in September but I think it is now getting a wider release and I’m stoked that most people seem to love it as much as me!

    “We’re Werewolves, not Swear-Wolves!!”

    bahaha πŸ˜› great write up man, you sir have good taste

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fabulous little film! I really, really enjoyed this one. By far the funniest film of last year and I’m normally quite critical of comedies. They tend never to get me in stitches but this one did. Hilarious!

      Like

  14. I am exactly the same with comedies mate haha! The last one that had me laughing this much was The Wolf On Wall Street… oh and ‘The Little Death’, a great Aussie flick from last year about sexual fetishes. Hilarious stuff, cleverly done, not for shocks. But yeah I am also very critical of comedies, very few comedies make me laugh. I laughed more at The Zero Theorem, The Double and Grand Budapest than I did at most comedies from last year. TV is where my sorta comedy is πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Agreed. One of the best films I’ve seen this year. Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

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