What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Directors: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi; Writers: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi; Stars: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonny Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Ben Fransham; Rating: R; Run Time: 86 min; Genre: Comedy, Horror; Country: New Zealand; Language: English; Year: 2014

Viago talks fashion in What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Viago talks victim fashion

What We Do in the Shadows is probably the most original horror-comedy released in the last decade and is definitely my favorite. Presented as a documentary, What We Do in the Shadows follows the lives of four vampires who share a flat in Wellington, New Zealand, in the months leading up to the yearly celebration of undead known as The Unholy Masquerade. If you haven’t seen it, you should do so as soon as you finish reading. You won’t regret it.

Viago wakes Deacon in What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Deacon tells of his night out

In perfect mockumentary form, the film begins with a title card from the “New Zealand Documentary Board” and an explanation of the nature of the “documentary” before moving into the action. Viago (Taika Waititi), the 379-year-old defacto leader of the group, is the first vampire introduced as he wakes to his dusk alarm. As Viago wakes his flatmates, we are introduced to Deacon (Jonny Brugh) – the 183-year-old bad boy of the group, Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) – an 862-year-old former tyrant known as “Vladislav the Poker, and Petyr (Ben Fransham) – an 8,000-year-old Nosferatuesque vampire who spends most of his time alone or in his stone crypt in the basement. We are then treated to a vampire flat meeting to discuss chores, a scene that both establishes the personalities of the vampires and dynamics of the group, as well as the type of humor that viewers can expect throughout the rest of the film.

Vladislav explains his age in What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Vladislav explains his youthful look

What We Do in the Shadows plays on traditional vampire tropes – the fear and danger of sunlight, shapeshifting, hypnosis, the lack of reflection in mirrors, and the need for human blood – but combines them with traditional roommate issues in a wholly unique and hilarious manner. We follow them as they go out on the town, acquire another flatmate (thanks to Petyr), make friends with a human, interact with werewolves, learn of technological advances that can benefit them, deal with vampire hunters, and, finally, attend The Unholy Masquerade.

Viago wakes Petyr in What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Viago wakes Petyr

With What We Do in the Shadows, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi have created a unique horror comedy that becomes funnier with each viewing. The attention to detail, direction, music, cinematography, and acting are all top notch. Following its success, Clement and Waititi have announced a sequel that will focus on werewolves living in Wellington, New Zealand, and will be called We’re Wolves (formerly titled What We Do in the Moonlight). IMDb lists this project as in development, and I can’t wait to see what they produce. In addition, late 2016 brought news of a New Zealand TV spin-off project called Paranormal Event Response Unit (or Paranormal Unit) and late 2017 brought news of an American TV spin-off called Wellington Paranormal. Both will be X-Files type comedies following Officers Minogue (Mike Minogue) and O’Leary (Karen O’Leary) as they investigate supernatural happenings in the town of Wellington, New Zealand. Fans of What We Do in the Shadows will recognize Minogue and O’Leary as the officers who investigate a disturbance at the vampires’ flat. Not too shabby for a horror comedy mockumentary.

What We Do in the Shadows is available now on Amazon Prime, so catch it now if you get the chance. Check back with House of Tortured Souls for more information on We’re Wolves as we get it.

Vladislav has a succubus orgy in What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Vladislav’s succubus orgy

Posted by Alan Smithee

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