Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav are three vampires living together and trying to cope with modern life; from paying rent, doing housework, and trying to get into nightclubs, they’re perfectly normal – except for their immortality, fangs, and thirst for human blood. When their 8000 year-old housemate, Petyr, turns 20-something Nick into a vampire, the guys must guide him through his newfound eternal life. In return, they are forced to learn a thing or two about modern life.
Meeting Nick’s human friend Stu, radically changes the vampires’ lives and attitudes towards the ever-changing world around them. When Stu’s life is threatened, the vamps show us that maybe humans are worth fighting for, and that even though your heart may be cold and dead, it doesn’t mean you have no feelings.
In short, What We Do In The Shadows, probably the best mockumentary since This Is Spinal Tap, is bloody funny. Groan.
It’s almost the law to use the phrase “bloody funny” in a review of a vampire comedy and, quite frankly, it’s a relief that it deserves it and then some. Normally “not bloody funny” is more appropriate.
This works because of the obvious affection directors Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clementhas (Flight of the Conchords) have for the horror genre, in much the same way that Edgar Wright made Shaun of the Dead. There isn’t a hint of irony or sarcasm; instead of trying to find some original twist, the predictability of these characters is embraced, which is exactly what long-time horror fans do anyway. And placing them in a modern, typically mundane setting makes these ‘monsters’ charmingly awkward. It’s all well and good achieving immortality, but someone still has to do the dishes everyday.
It lampoons fly-on-the-wall documentaries brilliantly. We almost never see the camera crew, protected by crucifix so their subjects don’t get too hungry, and so the housemates are left to nervously introduce their home before slipping into their regular routines. The very first scene sets up the whole film perfectly as Viago, looking like Lestat’s less successful cousin, shows us why curtains are so scary and then struggles to arrange a meeting to discuss the mess with his lazy housemates. Well Nosferatu styled Petyr isn’t so lazy, being 8000 years old and living in the basement.
It may sound a bit silly and I suppose it is, but if you get the joke from scene one, you’re in for a treat. It helps if you’re an old-school horror fan, because most of the humour comes from good hearted mickey taking of classic rules; just how do vampires dress so impeccably when they haven’t got a mirror?
The fairly low budget is used really well and combined with some superb effects, so it’s always low key, as if it really has been followed by a couple of blokes with a single camera, but this isn’t stretched by the later action sequences. The scene where the vampires tease the local werewolf gang, who are trying to resist getting angry (“We’re werewolves, not swearwolves!”), is hilarious and sets up a petty, but messy battle. Other moments like the aftermath of an attack by a vampire hunter are equally impressive.
Ultimately this is great fun and not to be taken in the least bit serious. Hopefully it will find a cult following and do for vampires what Shaun did for zombies.