Movie Name: What We Do in the Shadows
Studio: Resnick Interactive
Release Date(s): January 19, 2014 (Sundance Film Festival)/June 15, 2014 (Sydney)/February 13, 2015 (US)
MPAA Rating: R
Vlad (Jemaine Clement), Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonny Brugh), and Petyr (Ben Fransham) are roommates living in New Zealand and being documented by a film crew…they just also happen to be vampires. As they prepare for the big Unholy Masquerade gathering, their lives are thrown into turmoil when a new vampire named Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) is made and he brings his human friend Stu (Stu Rutherford) into the mix. Nick has different ideas about being a vampire and the roommates find they might have made a mistake.
Written and directed by Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement, What We Do in the Shadows is a mockumentary vampire movie. The film was well received by critics when it premiered in 2014 and was released in the United States after a Kickstarter campaign.
I already was a fan of Jemaine Clement from his other work and especially Flight of the Conchords so I was excited to see this movie. I also like work like The Office and the films of Christopher Guest so combining both that style and Clement’s sense of humor, I knew What We Do in the Shadows would be a winning combo.
The movie is quite smart. It plays with a lot of different aspects of vampire stories with creepy vampires, the problems of living forever, rival inhuman beasts, and forlorn love when a person never dies (and is actually older than elderly people). It isn’t always logical like the characters drawing pictures of each other since they have no reflections, but other shots indicate that they show up on camera. Despite gaps in the storytelling, the movie is still fun.
The cast is also perfect. Despite being the big “star” of the movie, Clement is almost a supporting role with director Taika Waititi being more of the lead vampire in the story. Deacon played by Jonny Brugh is the least developed character and Cori Gonzalez-Macuer’s “Nick” is the dumb new vampire that doesn’t get the idea of low-profile (despite the other vampires having a TV crew as pointed out). I like his rather silent human friend Stu played by Stu Rutherford who the vampires all like better. I was kind of disappointed that Ben Fransham exited the movie early since his Petyr was just a great visual gag. Former Flight of the Conchords co-star Rhys Darby also appears in the film as the leader of the werewolf pack.
The movie is relatively low budget but it does a good job. The movie has to make what little special effects look natural when they are being shot in a natural style of film shooting. A great example of this is some of the floating. A simple rotating room appears to still work when a fight breaks out and the characters roll around the ceiling…it is all the film needs and it works in the context of the film.
I recommend What We Do in the Shadows. If you like vampire horror films, the movie does enough to poke fun at the movies (without outright mocking them), and if you like comedies, there are a lot of laughs. I could see another follow-up to this movie at some point to see what the vampires (and werewolves) are up to in another ten, twenty, or one hundred years.
Buy it on Amazon.com or stream it now: