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SFF’14 Movie Review: “What We Do In The Shadows”

January 31, 2014

Screen shot 2014-01-31 at 5.03.38 PM

Vampires have lives too, well, that’s an understatement. The New Zealand Documentary Film Board issued local kiwi filmmakers Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi to document the ‘seedy underworld’ of the Wellington vampire community. What they get isn’t anything close to being the dark, vicious vampires pop culture has provided people.

Viago (Waititi), Vladislav (Clement), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Petyr (Ben Fransham) are vampires, but more importantly, they’re all flat mates. Skimming through this undead life they live, [trying to] lure virgins to their home, yearn for excitement, and of course keeping their distance from the annoying werewolves of Wellington, led by the jerk pack leader Anton (Rhys Darby).

This is a brilliant comedy, a stroke of genius by the makers of “Eagle vs. Shark” and “Flight of the Concords”, fans of those particular comedies will certainly fare well here. People who enjoy the occasional Christopher Guest mockumentary’s will love this film, imagine if “Best in Show” had a bastard love child with “True Blood”. The film doesn’t stop with vampires, it manages to poke fun at werewolves, zombies, and witches.

The visual effects are off the wall bonkers, they incorporate the gag of vampire flight, transformation, and all the delicious bloody carnage clever ways, it’s down right genius. There’s a particular scene, one could compare it to the infamous ‘bloody scene’ in Mel Brooks’ “Dracula: Dead and Loving It”, where Viago is alone, with a ‘helpless’ virgin, and as he makes the first incision with his fangs, a glorious design of blood ensues, leading to an ocean of laughs by the audience.

Screen shot 2014-01-31 at 5.04.00 PMThe supporting characters are fantastic; the inclusion of the newly formed vampire, Nick (Cori Gonzales-Macuer), who cares more about showing off rather than keeping incognito as a vampire should, has some of the best scene stealing moments in the entire film. Needless to say every character has their moment to shine, or even burn…poor poor Petyr.

Already, “What We Do In The Shadows” may very well be my #1 favorite comedy of the year, and ranks as one of the best (genre) films to debut at this years festival. I wouldn’t mind seeing a continuation of the characters in any form, whether it’s a sequel, or a string of web-series shorts produced by its recent distributor, Funny OR Die. “What We Do In The Shadows” is a madcap monster affair that cannot be missed.

GRADE: A

Special thanks to Jennie Strong for attending the screening and sharing her input.

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