What We Do in the Shadows

Film Review by Kirsty Leckie-Palmer | 31 Mar 2015
Film title: What We Do in the Shadows
Director: Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Starring: Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Rhys Darby, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Ben Fransham
Release date: 13 Apr
Certificate: 15

A documentary crew follows the lives of four vampires living in a Wellington suburb. The key word here is ‘vampires’. Exchange it for ‘midwives’ and this might be the plot of a colour-by-numbers reality show. Exchange it for ‘rock-stars’, and we’re in Spinal Tap territory. Which is exactly how What We Do in the Shadows operates; scuttling between genres, sucking in references from Nosferatu to Twilight, and spraying out comedic lifeblood by way of a banal, acerbic perspective, and fully-realised characters.

Most of its laughs come from the petty sparring between its odd-quadrant dynamic. There’s prinking, dandified Viago (Waititi), somewhat-reformed sadist Vlad (Clement), and louche Deacon (Brugh). Petyr (Fransham), the eldest at 8000 years, lurks in the basement, munching on spinal columns and serving up Orlokian presence as foil to his hapless, endearing roomies.

Exhuming anything fresh from the well-decimated vaults of horror comedy is no mean feat. However, flinging fistfuls of workaday charm, like holy water, over the premise, Waititi and Clement pry open the coffin lid and unleash a box-fresh, fang-sharp comedy which goes straight for the jugular. [Kirsty Leckie-Palmer]