What We Do In The Shadows Film Review

Film Review by Jon E Clist
What We Do In The Shadows

The Premise
Follow the lives of Viago (Waititi), Deacon (Brugh), and Vladislav (Clement) - three flatmates who are just trying to get by and overcome life's obstacles-like being immortal vampires who must feast on human blood. Hundreds of years old, the vampires are finding that beyond sunlight catastrophes, hitting the main artery, and not being able to get a sense of their wardrobe without a reflection-modern society has them struggling with the mundane like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts.

The Review
Kiwi films are certainly becoming an endless source of joy to me. There have been some brilliant comedies in the past decade that have certainly garnered a cult status. Flight Of The Conchords, Eagle v Shark, Boy and now the Vampiric mocumentary, What We Do In The Shadows. It doesn't take much to see that there are some common threads that link these all together, Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi and Rhys Darby. These guys have certainly pulled something together that has built for itself a master-class of extremely funny local based humour. While Boy is the most successful local film in New Zealand it probably hasn't had the international success that it deserved. While most of us would say that Flight of the Conchords finished its two season run way too soon, it probably did the honourable thing by not risking a massive drop in the quality of the series. Something that the English generally do a lot better than the Americans with their six episode seasons while the USA normal season contains 24.

So after two critically acclaimed films, has Waititi brought about another kiwi classic cult film? I would have to say a resounding yes, as I truly believe this is one of the funniest films I have ever seen. To say that Taika and Jemaine are comedic geniuses is an absolute understatement. They bring something rather cool to this film that really brings a whole new fun to the world of vampires: Vampire Flatmates. Each of the characters brings a unique feel to the form of blood suckers. You have the traditional Dracula style in the form of Vladislav, the ever so campy Viago, plus the party boy Deacon and of course then they bring out the Nosferatu styled Vampire of Petyr. Within these four characters you kind of have all of the core styles of vampires from all of the films that have come before. Sure it plays into the whole stereotypes from this genre, however when you put them into the format of flatting together in Wellington, you get something rather different and fresh from all of the vampire films that have come before.

However it is not just these characters that make this film something rather awesome. You have Stu, the familiar of the newest vampire, Nick. It is kind of like throwing humans into the mix in a way that is so foreign to their own understanding of what they are in the middle of. I think that the character of Stu is by far one of my favourites because he is so plain and normal amongst the crazy hyper-characters around him. I found out that Stuart Rutherford is new to the acting game and the role of Stu is his first ever in a feature film. Originally a professional in the I.T. world, Stu fell into the role of Stu because of who he was. When Taika and Jemaine were making the original short film (That this film was based on), Stu was assisting them because he was Taika’s flatmate. When they needed another human character they asked Stu to fill in. His ability to just “be himself” and inhabit the character naturally is what lead to the role being reprised for the feature. The role was written especially for him and no, he did not have to audition.

Plus one of New Zealand’s favourite comedians, Rhys Darby, turns up as the Alpha Werewolf with some brilliant dialogue that only he could ever deliver to this level of choice!

The Verdict
New Zealand comedy at its absolute best. Extremely funny and superbly clever.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 19th June 2014
Rating: R13 - Contains violence and offensive language
Duration: 85 minutes 
Genre:  Mocumentary Comedy
Starring: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stuart Rutherford, Jackie van Beek, Rhys Darby, Kura Forrester, Frank Habicht, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Yvette Parsons, Madeleine Sami, Ben Fransham
Director: Taika Waititi & Jermaine Clement (Boy, Short Poppies)

The Extras
It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014.

The film is based on a 2006 short film of the same name by Waititi and Clement. The new film was shot in Wellington in September 2012, and is Waititi's first feature since Boy.