Scene 14 – What We Do in the Shadows

Firstly I’d like to apologise for the late post…I did have this update done…just forgot to post it….anyway on with show…

This weeks movie sees the turn of the 2014 Mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows. The story is about four vampires of great-varying-ages who all live together in Wellington, New Zealand. The movie picks up with a small film crew following these four undead flat-mates, as they observe their daily…or nightly rather, routines, in a Spinal Tap – esque style. The group consists of Viago (Taika Waititi), who is 379; Deacon (Jonathan Braugh), age 183; Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), age 862 and Petyr (Ben Fransham), at the spritely age of 8,000.

We also meet their friend Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), who was supposed to be one of those meals but instead was bitten by Petyr …just as was Deacon years ago, in a hilarious laudation between the Blair Witch Project and the Scooby Doo chase scenes. Nick’s friend Stu (Stu Rutherford), an ordinary human who learns of their secret existence…because Nick just blurts it out… but he enjoys their company regardless and they all seem to like him, so they all agree to leave Stu alone, conveniently the same way they have with the filmmakers… although to add to the absurd hilarity, they tell us that they still wear crucifixes just in case. We are also introduced to Jackie (Jackie Van Beek), Deacon’s “familiar”; a voluntary servant because he promise that he’ll turn her into a vampire, although he keeps delaying it to Jackie’s distaste because she doesn’t want to get any older….and in fairness who wouldn’t enjoy someone doing all of their errands…all except cleaning up the blood-stained-dishes in their kitchen, which Viago and Vladislav complain about given that its Deacon’s housekeeping job.

The minimal-story progresses we follow our main 3 guys as they explore Wellington night life…but because they have to be invited into any home or establishment and hilariously they can’t convince the doormen at most night clubs to actually invite them in… so they usually just end up at the vampire bar. This usually results in them bringing home dinner guests, who don’t realize that they’re the main course, resulting one time in hilarity when Viago’s guest, who assumes it’s a first date but takes no notice of him spreading newspapers around to sop up the forthcoming mess…

Due to the minimalist story I can’t go into it too much…but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good, quite the opposite. What We Do in the Shadows, is one of the best comedy movies I have seen in a long time. It has taken a proven, yet not overly expanded genre of the Mockumentary and revamped it…if you pardon the pun, without making it cheesy like so many other do. This referencing is established at in the opening scene of Viago rising from his coffin is reminiscent of the classic Nosferatu (1922)…but with a perpetually goofy grin and alarm clock ringing; to the Star Wars reminiscent-hypnotism-manipulation “These are not the droids you’re looking for”, that the protagonists use on the police who some to investigate the noise complaints; or it’s play on the ’norm’ with Deacon’s backstory that he once was a Nazi vampire until World War II when it was no longer cool; to Stu being a tasty virgin because he’s a computer programmer.

What We Do in the Shadows is one marvelously-absurd-film-journey that pokes fun at decades of movie vampire tropes and the romantic fascination of more-current-vampire tales…unlike in the Twilight series or rather intentionally here, these protagonists come across as bumbling idiots—except for Petyr, who just looks like a grumpy corpse with long teeth and claws, again a reference to Max Schreck’s characterization of Count Orlock in Nosferatu …with the marvelous conceit in the fictional Shadow of the Vampire (Elias Merhige, 2000) that Schreck was actually one of the “undead”.  At a mere 86 minutes, What We Do in the Shadows flies by with an abundance of laughs and rich character development….It’s hard to imagine anyone not being drawn in the its story. It isn’t a perfect film, but it is a perfectly good piffle of a film. It’s the kind of film in which you completely immerse yourself like a schoolboy ..or girl…while watching it saying ‘Vampires aren’t so bad’…well if they are anything like they are in this movie…I wish they were my friends.
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