I don’t often recommend comedy films on the Multiverse, mostly because I don’t find most modern comedies all that funny. I’ll watch a new film by Judd Apatow, or a new movie starring Will Ferrell, and I’ll get a few giggles out of it, but it’s rare that a film makes me laugh as much as my friends do.
What We Do In The Shadows is an exception to the rule. It takes the form of a mockumentary about four vampires living in Wellington, New Zealand, who are flatmates. Deacon is the youngest at 183 years old and considered the rebel of the group. Vladislav is 862, ‘a bit of a pervert’ and very old-fashioned. Viago is 379, fussy in an old-maidish way and the most personable. Petyr is a Nosferatu-type, 8000 years old, mute and wizened.
What We Do In The Shadows opens with a housemates meeting where they discuss typical issues such who’s behind on the ‘chore-wheel’ (Deacon hasn’t cleaned the blood-soaked dishes for five years) and goes on to show the vampires’ struggle to adapt to modern life. They aren’t awake during the day and so have no knowledge of technology. Each night they try to get into nightclubs to find victims but fail because the bouncers don’t invite them in, and so they rely on their human familiar, Jackie, to bring potential victims to the house. One night Jackie brings her ex-boyfriend Nick over and the housemates turn him. Nick integrates into the group and introduces his friend Stu, a computer programmer who revolutionises their lives by showing them how to use computers.
There are numerous hilarious set pieces throughout, such as the masquerade ball with the local zombies and witches. My favourites are the encounters with the Wellington werewolf pack led by Anton (played by Rhys Darby). Anton encourages his pack mates to civilise themselves and to be responsible, chaining themselves up before they change. ‘What are we? We’re Were-Wolves, not Swear-Wolves.’
The little details in a mockumentary reinforce the authenticity (e.g. the band members’ coldsores in Spinal Tap) and What We Do In The Shadows is full of these: a title card at the beginning assuring us that the crew wore crucifixes throughout filming, the vampires sketching each other in different outfits because they have no reflection and can’t see what they look like before heading out for the night, newly-turned Nick telling girls that he’s the guy from Twilight.
Fans of comedy series Flight of the Conchords will recognise Anton and Vladislav, who are played by Rhys Darby and Jermaine Clement. Clement is also the co-writer of the film along with Taika Waititi who plays Viago. What We Do In The Shadows came out at the beginning of 2014 so you may have already seen it, but if not it’s on Netflix now.