What if four vampires shared a house in New Zealand? This is the premise behind the mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows and it is easily the funniest movie of last year.
The film is the brainchild of Writer-Directors Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi and it focuses on Vladislav (Clement), Viago (Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) and Petyr (Ben Fransham), four vampires sharing a house outside of Wellington. There is a very loose story that follows out of the mishaps of very old vampires trying to exist in the modern world. A guy they lure to their house, Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), is transformed into a vampire and he has to deal with its impact on his life, including how to tell his best mate, Stu (Stuart Rutherford). There is also a buildup of sorts to a local ball for all the vampires, witches, zombies, etc. in the area, but while that is the initial set up, it doesn’t really come back into play until later in the film. The bulk of the film centers on the vampires coping with modern day life and typical roommate issues, but with a vampire world spin on them, (their introduction to the Internet is classic). It really skewers vampire lore and rubs it right up against practicality with hilarious results. Watching the vamps out on the town and running into a pack of werewolves is quite funny and the fact that they can’t enter any establishment without being invited in is quite troublesome for them. It’s just a consistently humorous premise with several moments of stark hilarity and by the end, there’s a little bit of heart in there as well, as you find you’ve come to care about these characters.
The cast is a fantastic ensemble that really inhabits the roles. Clement is the vain Vladislav, who has never been the same since his battle with “The Beast,” but he doesn’t let that cramp his style. Waititi’s Viago is a dandy, who pines for his lost love and is essentially in charge of running the house. Fransham’s Petyr doesn’t say much—he’s a play on Nosferatu—but he is hilarious in his own way as the 8,000 year old vampire in the basement. Brugh plays the brash Deacon with abandon and styles himself as the “bad boy” of the group. He likes to start trouble and takes an instant dislike to Gonzalez-Macuer’s Nick, who isn’t shy about telling everyone he meets that he’s a vampire. Rhys Darby from Flight of the Conchords also shows up as the werewolf pack leader. Just a superb job by these guys.
Overall, What We Do in the Shadows is a must-see. I don’t want to spoil any more of the jokes than I already have, but trust me when I say that you’ll laugh hard and often at this film. Clement and Waititi perfectly capture that sense of parody with a heart at the core. If you’re a fan of vampires, you’ll love it even more thanks to all the clever references to vampire lore and culture. Also, if you’re not a horror fan, don’t worry about it—the film is a straight up comedy with some minor gore, but it’s played to comic effect. Definitely check this one out if it’s playing in your area.