Vampires have inspired numerous interpretations -- horrific creatures, romantic figures, angst-driven souls -- but what if, in modern times, they tried to live in the modern world?  This is the basis for What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary about what can happen when the traditional vampire comes face to face with the modern world.

What We Do in the Shadows begins with four centuries-old vampires living as flatmates in Wellington, New Zealand.  Viago (Taiki Waititi) is a bit of a dandy who laments his lost love -- and tries to get his flatmates to follow through on their responsibilities on the chore wheel.  Vladislav (Jermaine Clement) has a hypnotic gaze and considers himself dangerous; he also obsesses over his losing battles with a supernatural entity called the Beast.  Deacon (Jonny Brugh) considers himself the cool one in the group; he also has a human familiar: Jackie (Jackie van Beek), a bored housewife who serves Deacon in the hopes he'll someday turn her into a vampire.  Finally there's Petyr (Ben Fransham), the oldest vampire; he resembles the creature from Nosferatu and rarely leaves his stone coffin in the basement.

The vampires have invited two cameramen to film them at their daily activities, whether wandering around town looking for victims, entertaining themselves in their flat, looking for a fight with werewolves ("We're werewolves, not swear-wolves"), or preparing for the Unholy Masquerade ball for supernatural beings.  Changes start when their victim Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Maceur) becomes a vampire and starts bringing them into the modern age -- as well as telling everyone that he's a vampire.  ("Twilight!")  There's also Stu (Stu Rutherford), a friend of Nick's who quickly becomes more popular with the vampires than Nick, and who they all agree not to eat.
 What We Do in the Shadows is quite a funny take on the vampire genre.  All the standards of vampirism are there -- killing for blood, bursting into flame in sunlight, hypnotism, flying, turning into bats, needing to be invited someplace, not having a reflection -- but they all become part of the vampires' almost mundane existence in their home and about town.  There are lots of funny lines, and stars Taiki and Jermaine also direct the film with a simple and straightforward touch that makes the situations even funnier.  What We Do in the Shadows is a light comedy (about inhuman killers) that's quite enjoyable.  (Sadly and surprisingly, there are no extras on the dvd.)
Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: