Just when you thought you were safe from vampires ... when it seemed the genre might have tired blood or be coffin contained ...What We Do in the Shadows gives vampires new life!
This very funny mockumentary will get a rise out of anyone still fogging the mirror. Shadows is a slice of life rendering of four very, very old flat mates in Wellington, New Zealand. Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), Petyr (Ben Fransham) and, of course, Vlad (Jemaine Clement), ranging in age from whippersnapper 183 to a spry 8000 years old.
In true reality style, the film sheds light on the very real problems of these daylight averse nocturnal creatures. Some difficulties arise from their failure to adapt to group life. Vlad hasn't cleaned the dishes in five years, Viago complains, pointing out a sink full of bloody plates, bowls, glasses and utensils. They don't seem to be able to adhere to schedules or the dictates of the house chore wheel. Vacuuming seems to consist of dragging dust catching corpses along the floor.
The vampires get some assistance from their servant Jackie (Jackie Van Beek). She aspires to join their ranks, but the crew are more interested in using her to lure other fresh blood into the house. An overly frisky Petyr gives Jackie's visiting ex-boyfriend Nick an inaugural bite. A true convert, Nick gets house members in trouble, loudly proclaiming his new status. Attracted by his blood curdling shrieks, two police officers inspect the house, ignoring the mayhem, but advising the inhabitants to correct a series of petty violations. Nick's friend Stu (Stuart Rutherford) hovers on the periphery, a human foil whose nerdyness seems less alive than the walking dead.
Nightlife is certainly the focus of these nefarious nocturnals. Humor cum horror reigns as the Nosferatutu clad boys wander Wellington's watering holes. They are regulars at a local vampire club and attend a spirited masquerade ball. But there is bad blood when Vlad bumps into his old flame Paula, whom he refers to as The Beast. Clearly Paula has been necking with others!
Similarly the group's encounters with a gang of local werewolves get off on the wrong foot. After much woofing and barking up the wrong tree, the two groups bury their grievances. Not do only do the vampires reconcile with the other otherworldly, but they stagger toward managing to survive in the world they don't really live in. Certainly their success . . . and longevity . . . gives rise to the possibility of many sequels!
The film is directed with a light hand, a wink and a nod by Clement and Waititi (also known as Taika Cohen). The pair won New Zealand's most important comedy prize the Billy T. Award in 1999. Waititi's short film Two Cars, One Night (2004) was nominated for an Academy Award. Hopefully Waititi and Clement will use their supernatural powers to breathe life into other genres, as well.