With Twilight giving cinemas a serious case of vampire fatigue What We Do In Shadows is a timely reminder that they’re just as much a source of comedy as they are horror, or brooding self-indulgence for that matter. In fact so ingrained is vampire mythology in modern culture that What We Do In Shadows manages to tap into a rich source of bloody vampire material with which to toy with.
Taking on a mocumentary format, think This Is Spinal Tap but with blood suckers rather than rock stars, we’re invited into the house of a group of vampires. There’s Viago (Taika Waititi), the dapper maternal one of the group, Petry (Ben Fransham), the Nosferateau creature lurking in the basement, Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), the wannabe alpha male, and Vladislav (Jamaine Clement) the preening, brooding one. Going about vampire life in modern society proves difficult until they recruit Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) a recently turned creature of the night who is able to, you know, get them into clubs and stuff.
Forget Team Edward and Jacob, although there is a brilliant turn by Rhys Darby as a wardrobe worrying werewolf, What We Do In Shadows is a laugh-out-loud riot of a vampire comedy. It’s as if early Peter Jackson splatter fests, all done with such ridiculous fountains of blood it’s hard to see them as anything but funny, had a love child with ‘80s sitcom The Young Ones. We’re invited into these whacky characters lives as writer directors Waititi and Clement send-up the vampire legend to brilliantly satirical effect.
Early on Shadows deals with the day to day worries of being a vampire; be it the risk of opening the curtains and the sun still being up or having to prepare yourself for a night out without having the aid of a reflection to see how you look. It is essentially a series of small sketches based around what it is to be a vampire but it works, and never fails to bring a genuine chuckle. Waititi and Clement, whose form in this area is unquestionable thanks to numerous collaborations on Flight Of The Concords and Eagle Vs. Shark, inject the film with life by instilling a sense of being invited into this vampire fraternity. These are real characters complete with all the eccentricities you would expect of people, or creatures, which ever is more politically correct, who have lived for hundreds of years and never really been able to adapt.
So themes such as eternal love, tough break-ups, only being able to eat blood and the worry that werewolves smell of wet dog are all brilliantly sent up but never lose sight of the characters at hand. These vampires are too long in to the tooth to change and as such they’re all endlessly endearing and often frustrating in equal measure.
A smart, bloody funny and eternally entertaining send-up of a genre that has grown weary but will always offer something new, What We Do In The Shadows puts the fun back in vampires without any of that sparkly nonsense.