What We Do in the Shadows

Directed By: Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement

Starring: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Rhys Darby, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, and Stu Rutherford

Vampire movies have been getting increasingly creative over the last several years.  2013's Kiss of the Damned wasn't particularly enjoyable, but it certainly broke the mold for vampire flicks.  Last year's post-modern drama Only Lovers Left Alive gave us some cool vampires portrayed by Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, and John Hurt.  This year, we have What We Do in the Shadows, a comedy straight from New Zealand that takes vampires in yet another direction, a rather amusing one.

Viago (Taika Waititi), Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Petyr (Ben Fransham) are four vampires living together in a flat in a suburb of Wellington.  Viago, aged 317, is the neat and tidy member of the bunch who makes sure that everyone does their chores.  Vladislav, aged 862, is a rather crude medieval vampire whose views are antiquated.  Deacon, aged 183, is the youngest of the bunch and the rebel of the group.  By far the oldest of the group, Petyr, aged 8,000, no longer takes on a human appearance and is far more savage than his younger mates in the flat.  The group is chronicling their daily lives for an upcoming documentary.

Deacon's servant Jackie (Jackie Van Beek) brings the group humans on which to feast.  In exchange, she expects that Deacon will turn her into a vampire.  Interestingly enough, Jackie has the nasty habit of feeding her vampire masters the blood of people who have ruffled her feathers or have wronged her in the past.  When she brings her ex-boyfriend Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) one night, things go awry.  Nick escapes the group's clutches only to have Petyr bite him and turn him into a vampire in the woods.  The new vampire on the block, Nick quickly causes tension within the group.  Meanwhile, the Unholy Masquerade, Wellington's annual gathering of dark creatures, fast approaches.

What We Do in the Shadows is one fun romp.  Directors Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement offer a fresh take on traditional bloodsuckers with their thoroughly entertaining mockumentary comedy.  With vampires of various ages all terribly too old for the 21st century, they bring to life a creative premise full of comedic potential.  Though the film gets a little too silly for my taste at times, Waititi and Clement capitalize on this potential for the most part delivering plenty of humor along the way.  With a little more irreverence, What We Do in the Shadows could have struck far more comedic gold.

The actors are cast perfectly in their roles.  For his part as Viago, Taika Waititi is well-suited to give us the nerdy neat freak of the bunch.  On screen, he's uptight enough to bring some humor to the performance.  As Vladislav, Jemaine Clement delivers the goods.  This 862 year-old brute comically showcases his antiquated views on a range of issues.  Jonathan Brugh is also quite amusing as Deacon.  His "youthful" zest shakes up the rest of the group.  I'm also a fan of Stu Rutherford's character aptly named Stu.  Rutherford gives us one nonchalant human for a guy hanging out with vampires far, far older than him.

What We Do in the Shadows hits the mark.  Though it's not perfect, it does offer a refreshingly humorous take on the vampire race.  What We Do in the Shadows gets a strong 0.06% rating.  Have a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc with this one.