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What We Do In the Shadows
The best horror comedy of the decade
By Bert Ehrmann
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Fort Wayne Reader
There are vampires in New Zealand, and their biggest problem is fitting in. That is according to the movie What We Do in the Shadows anyway.
I only discovered What We Do in the Shadows by happenstance. I’d heard of the movie via its trailers and posters but What We Do in the Shadows never got much of a buzz so I didn’t seek it out. Then, when I saw it pop-up on-demand I thought the poster was so, well, odd I didn’t rent it then either. It doesn’t help that the title of the movie What We Do in the Shadows sounds slightly risqué.
In fact, I only watched it last winter when I was flipping around the dial one Saturday night and caught it from the middle. The part I began watching has one vampire dying in a “freak” sunlight accident and I immediately knew what I was seeing was either going to be genius or crap — it’s exactly the same way I felt when I caught my first episode of the UK version of The Office randomly on TV. And like The Office, What We Do in the Shadows is pure brilliance.
Co-written, co-directed and co-starring Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (director of the upcoming Thor 3 movie) and also starring Jonny Brugh and Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, What We Do in the Shadows is about a group of vampires who share a home in Wellington, New Zealand and have problems. Most of their problems are related to the fact that even the youngest of them is a few hundred years old and they just don’t get our modern society.
They’re ancient vampires with modern problems like housecleaning that involves a lot of blood, but cleaning those hard to reach places is so much easier when you can fly.
Shot documentary style, in What We Do in the Shadows the vampires argue over who’s going to do the dishes that have been sitting in the sink for five years and when they should put down paper in order to keep spraying blood off the couch.
Enter new vampire Nick (Gonzalez-Macuer) who’s much cooler than the other vampires and can get into all the hot clubs and show them how to get along in modern society. But when vampire Deacon (Brugh) feels slighted since he used to be the cool one of the group and chases Nick off, it’s a question of whether or not Vladislav (Clement) or Viago (Waititi) want to go back to their old ways and leave things like eBay and their cell phones behind.
Even though What We Do in the Shadows uses the tried and true fauxcumentary technique that’s so popular these days, I think what makes the movie work so well are the characters. All of the characters feel like, err…, real vampires who aren’t the typical evil bloodsuckers but have their own quirks and personalities.
Virgo is a “bit of a dandy” who when slighted is likely to take a glove out and slap someone. Vladislav is probably the most stereotypical vampire of the bunch with his slavic accent and Gary Oldman style Dracula (1992) costumes but he’s lost his mojo after a defeat by “The Beast” that left him reeling. And Deacon is so self-centered he can’t even see what an asset Nick is to the group.
And when “The Beast” is revealed at the end of the movie it’s so hilariously true that I’m sure many of us have also fought “The Beast.”
Honestly, ever since I saw that first showing of What We Do in the Shadows I’ve watched the movie about four times. I laugh every time I watch it and always catch something new.
Reading up it seems like What We Do in the Shadows only made about $7 million at the box office which is bad. The good news is that the movie did well enough and has gotten such a good word of mouth that a sequel, this time about the werewolves of What We Do in the Shadows titled We’re Wolves might be in the works and another spin-off TV series as well.