What We Do in the Shadows is more like an overlong sketch rather than a full-length film, but its well written endearing characters, clever screenplay, and resourceful action scenes make it charming and entertaining.
What We do in The Shadows chronicles the adventures of four vampire roommates trying to get by in a modern world that’s not always hospitable to the undead.
What We Do in the Shadows tackles the awkward and tricky side of being vampire with hilarious results.
The script has four easily likeable characters that keeps the mockumentary entertaining and engaging. Deacon is the 183 year old vampire who likes to knit. As the youngest of the bunch, he’s the rebel of group. Viago is the 379 year old vampire who enforces the house rules. As a dandy from the 18th century, he’s fussy and a hopeless romantic. Vladislav is the 862 year old once tyrannical vampire. As the second oldest of the group, he has medieval ideas and a sort of tragic back story. Petyr is the 8,000 year old vampire whose the film’s stand-in for Nosferatu. As the oldest he is more savage than the rest, but wouldn’t hesitate to give you eternal life.
The narrative makes fun of the vampire lore through the daily – or rather nightly – routine of this unhip quartet who are trying to adopt to the 21st century. The mixed results of their efforts is similar to the challenges of being human, providing a lot of funny moments while making them relatable. They have difficulty getting into clubs, cleaning up after meals, dealing with relationships and maintaining a strict diet.
Other characters are thrown in to add more funny moments when the jokes run out – newly turned vampire Nick, mild-mannered Stu, aspiring vampire Jackie, and a group of werewolves.
The movie’s use of practical effects and minimal CGI is clever. They’re able to deliver believable and funny action scenes without the need to sink a lot of money on visual effects.
The whole cast is superb as each actor turns in great performances. Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi and Jonny Brugh stay true to their characters but insert enough human-like goofiness to make them personable. The rest shine as much as the principal cast when they’re needed to bring in variety to the vampire parody.
The film set is small in scope but it does help build engagement and closer interaction with the characters. The town of Wellington is a fitting location. The production design is detailed when needed.
On the other hand, the film doesn’t have much for a story and offers one-note jokes about vampires. It’s just a string of events surrounding four characters and the other people who get sucked into their lives. The mockumentary/fake documentary approach has been overused for years.
Nonetheless, the cast was able to carry the film and sustain the laughs until the end. What We Do in the Shadows proves that with creativity and clever tweaking, you can still freshen up overexposed characters and an old genre.
My Rating: 8/10
Alternative Movie Poster by Rhiannon Josland