Let me begin by saying this is not a promotional review in any way. I paid to rent this movie and as such I can say what I like. Innit.
So, What We Do In The Shadows. What’s it about?
Well it’s about 89 minutes long, and if you thought the New Zealand movie industry was just Peter Jackson and hobbits then maybe it’s time to think again. Actually my sources tell me that Peter Jackson’s next movie is again based on a children’s book, and will also be split into three movies. The Very Hungry Caterpillar will star Andy Serkis and part one will be released in early 2017, but I digress…
What We Do In The Shadows is a comedy in the mockumentary style, inspired by films like This Is Spinal Tap and Borat, written by, directed and starring, Jemaine Clement (Flight Of The Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Eagle vs Shark) about four vampires who share a house in modern-day Wellington, New Zealand.
A documentary crew, crucifixes firmly attached we’re assured, follow Vladislav The Poker, Deacon The Nazi Vampire, Viago the lovelorn, fussy, dandy vampire, and Petyr, the Nosferatu lookalike, chronicling their mundane existence and bemoaning the lows of 21st century life, including arguments about cleaning rotas, laundry and not being allowed into clubs because they’re not invited in.
Of course, vampires do as vampires will and when explaining why they drink the blood of virgins, Deacon explains ‘I think we drink virgin blood because it sounds cool’ while Vlad The Poker says ‘I think of it like this. If you are going to eat a sandwich, you would just enjoy it more if you knew no one had fucked it.’
The flatmates bring Nick into their lives via… well, conventional vampirical methods, and they wrestle with the changes wrought by bringing a young twenty something hipster into their world in the shadows, including new shizzle such as the internet and Ebay, where Vlad The Poker does his dark bidding. Vampire subculture also gets a bit of stick as we meet their familiar, Jackie, who wants eternal life in exchange for doing their dry cleaning, and Nick brags to anyone and everyone about how cool he is now he’s a vampire. As Deacon says ‘When you become a vampire you become very… sexy.’ We also meet the other people of the undead world in and around the Wellington area including vampire hunters and the local Werewolf pack, lead by Anton the Alpha Male, a beauraucratic, jobsworth werewolf (a great cameo by Rhys Darby very much in Murray from Flight of The Conchords mode) who advises, as the full moon comes into view and his pack begin to transform into monstrous wolf men;
‘Take all your clothes off that you wanna keep everyone. Get that army surplus jacket off, you’ve only just bought that David.’
The film builds to the seminal event of the vampire calendar, The Unholy Masquerade and I won’t spoil things by saying it doesn’t go exactly to plan when they bring their new friend, the very much alive Stew, to the party and they meet The Beast.
The reviews all went mad for this movie yet I struggled to see what they raved about. I found myself wishing I could laugh more and, in reality, I laughed more at Hotel Transylvania 2 which I saw at the weekend. Perhaps, if I’d watched it in the cinema, I might have found it funnier. If other people around me were giggling then I might’ve done the same. However sitting at home by myself I was a chortle free zone and I thought it a very gentle comedy, which isn’t what reviews led me to think.
I think I struggled with the style, the mockumentary itself. After all, how can you pastiche something like vampire films which are, by their nature, very very silly? I tend to think vampires and vampire films are high camp anyway. I once saw Interview With A Vampire and I swear I minced for a week.
As I said, I really really wanted to like this but, honestly, I thought the Twilight Series was funnier, although I don’t think the people behind Twilight intended that. What We Do In The Shadows is a good film, just not a great one, that being said fans of Flight of The Conchords, and there are a heck of a lot of those, will probably love this. So if you are, then download this via Amazon Prime like I did and let us know what you think.
What We Do In The Shadows is a 15 certificate and stars Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh and Cori Gonzalez-Macuer. It is available on DVD and Blu-Ray or to rent or buy on Amazon Prime.