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What We Do in the Shadows (A Movie Review)

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows


Starring Jemaine Clement,Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stuart Rutherford, BenFransham, Jackie van Beek and Rhys Darby.

Screenplay by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi.

Directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi.

Distributed by Unison Films and Paladin.  86 minutes.  Not Rated.

Years of stories have made vampires seem cool, romantic, adventurous, dangerous and sexy.

But is the undead life really all that intriguing?

Leave it to Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords to make the This Is Spinal Tap of bloodsuckers.

Filmed as if it is a giant documentary, What We Do In the Shadows follows a shared home of four (eventually five) longtime vampires trying to hide in plain sight in an old flat in modern New Zealand.

However, instead of romanticizing bloodsucking, What We Do In the Shadows shows the dirt and disgust of spurting blood.  It delves into the boring minutiae of being a vampire, like trying to shave and brush your teeth when you do not have a reflection, or how do you get bloodstains out of flowing silky shirts.

Instead of gorgeous maidens lounging in lingerie, they tend to run across street hoods and bums. Instead of lavish parties, they have to keep going to the same dive bar. (They can’t get into the good clubs because they have not been invited inside.)

They can’t let on their identities for fear that the villagers will come to kill them. Instead of a bloody civil war with werewolves, their relationships with their fellow creatures of the night tend to be a tug-of-war of macho pranks. They have labor relation problems with their familiars.

Most of their old friends are long dead. The dishes haven’t been washed in five years and are caked with blood. And Petyr, the oldest vampire, never cleans up the body parts left in his room.

Plus, they’ve missed all the good technological enhancements, like cell phones, the internet and selfies.

It’s a wild, funny idea, and pulled off with much more verve than you may imagine.

Eventually the movie, even at slightly under an hour and a half, runs out of steam and gets away from the filmmakers a bit. However, there are enough seriously hilarious scenes that the slightly blah ending doesn’t matter so much. In its own oddball deadpan way, What We Do In the Shadows is the funniest movie comedy so far in this young year.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2015 All rights reserved. Posted: February 13, 2015.

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