MOVIE REVIEW: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

This review contains mild spoilers.

On the plane back from America, I was surprised to find What We Do in the Shadows buried in the selection of free movies. I’d heard about it but never got around to actually watching it.

what we do in the shadowsWhat We Do in the Shadows is a clever New Zealand mockumentary about a group of vampires living together in a sharehouse in modern-day Wellington. Despite the setting, the vampires are still rocking strong European accents (probably having hailed from Transylvania) and clothing from their respective eras of death.

A large part of the movie’s charm comes from the surprisingly endearing relationship between the main characters. There are still bumps in the road after living together for centuries, but these guys have found a way to (mostly) peacefully co-exist in a grubby sharehouse. Writer-directors Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement respectively star as Viago, the sensitive, mother-like core of the group, and the token sex God Vladislav. Jonathan Brugh rounds out the trio as the ‘young’ and rebellious Deacon.

They actually remind me of the softer, misunderstood demons from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sure, these guys need human blood to survive and they’re not opposed to killing their dinner guests, but generally they’re pretty kind and funny, and very socially awkward. Thank God for hypnosis and human servants or they’d have a hard time securing any victims.

Though slow to start, the movie does have a tangible plot, which kicks off when 8000-year-old Petyr turns newcomer Nick into a vampire. The others begin to fully adjust not only to a new housemate but to the Gen Y way of life. The movie pokes fun at all the familiar tropes, but the believable and strangely normal friendship between the main characters prevents it from becoming an outright farce.


The verdict 

What We Do in the Shadows makes for engaging viewing with some laugh-out-loud moments and more subtle jokes that almost go unnoticed. Vampire tropes such as transformation, flying, and hypnosis all feature as regular, even mundane and dorky parts of life.  Any gore is comedic and obviously fake, so there’s little scare factor. I recommend this to anyone looking for a fun movie, especially if you appreciate New Zealand humour.


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