I had the opportunity to see Jemaine Clement (of Flight of the Conchords fame) and Taika Waititi’s (director of 2010’s Boy) hilarious What We Do In the Shadows last night at Toronto’s imagineNative festival. The film presents a fantastic take on the vampire movie trends of the past decade or so, making fun of the Twilight-esque and calling for a return to the darker roots of vampire tropes – all while staying within the realm of comedy, of course.
These comedy is largely achieved through the film’s style as a mockumentary. The film is presented as real – even with a warning playing beforehand stating that the film may contain deceased peoples – and this take is used very effectively by Clement and Waititi. The characters all directly address the camera, reality-show style. The results are hilarious.
What We Do In The Shadows follows the lives of a group of vampires living together as flatmates in Wellington, New Zealand. These characters, without giving much away about their distinct personalities (from which much of the laughs derive) are all based on different interpretations of vampires throughout history. For example, Clement plays the Dracula-esque character of the group, who is dark, brooding, and sexual. Waititi’s character, on the other hand, is decidedly more Interview With a Vampire, and I found him to be my personal favourite. When a new, young vampire tries to join this group of friends, they are forced to change their century-old traditions and get a little more modern.
I found the strongest part of the film to be the first half an hour or so, though the entirety of the film is great. Personally, I really enjoyed the setting up of all the characters, and watching their day-to-day, pretty normal (all things considering) lives (well, not lives, exactly) play out as they introduce themselves and fill in each others’ backstories to the camera.
Rhys Darby as the leader of a pack of werewolves was also a welcome thing. How can you not love that?
Overall, What We Do In The Shadows is a hilarious film that is definitely worth watching. I am excited that I got to see it around Halloween time (appropriate), but for now the film is only running along the festival circuit in North America. If you have a chance to see it any time soon and you’re a fan of comedy – especially previous work of Waititi or Clement – then I’d recommend it. The film has been picked up for release in Canada in February 2015, and although I have not heard, I would imagine a similar deal has or will be made within the US.