Glorious! Fresh yet homage-ridden, simultaneously dry and blood-soaked, What We Do in the Shadows rolls like Flight of the Conchords with a brand new palette.
Like the enlightened comic-book sci-fi blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, this mockumentary combines quality special effects/make-up, believable struggle and impact you can touch, with pretence-stripping, down-to-earth humour. Both movies tore shreds off their genre with satire, while also forging new ground for the future.
In a movie genre that has been bitten, drained and decapitated many times, filmmakers have to get up pretty early in the am to catch out the audience. This team got up at 6 the previous night and, before emerging from the crypt, had already splashed a few drops of fresh material into the arena.
Directors Taika Waititi (Boy, Eagle Vs Shark) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) have created a film that follows the trials and tribulations of a group of flat-sharing vampires of various ages (in both senses) “living” in modern-day Wellington, New Zealand. Aspects of the film are a straight-up, vampire-flick homage, but there are also extremely original new additions to the realm, and the high frequency of laugh-out-loud funny moments sustains the tickle till the finale.
Clement’s “Vladislav the Poker” character is a spot-on, vaguely inept version of real-life Transylvanian count/fictional vamp Vlad “the Impaler” Draculea, while Ben Fransham’s 8000-year-old “Petyr” is a brilliant Nosferatu the Vampyr. Combined with Waititi’s 19th-century dandy Viago and Jonathan Brugh’s wild boy Deacon, the crew look great hitting Wellington’s nightclubs – or rather, trying to convince bouncers to invite them in.
The film is brought to us by various associates from the Flight of the Conchords crew, and it’s good to see Murray (Rhys Darby), the FotC manager, appear in a small yet dominating role.
There is comedy gold hidden in the various attempts at vampire hypnosis throughout the movie, but I will go no further in this review, to keep What We Do in the Shadows fresh and foil-sealed for your own seductive trip to the cinema – after which you will forget everything you saw and go to see it again the day after, and so on into eternity…
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