Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi's WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
This movie wonderfully answers the burning question, what would happen if some really good comedy writers made a faux reality documentary about a group of vampires living in the middle class suburbs of Wellington, New Zealand?
Not that the world has been holding its breath for the answer but, comedy wise, this movie is a breath of fresh air for anyone who suspects that the topics of vampires, werewolves, zombies, and fake reality shows have been done to death. It’s hilarious, well written, beautifully crafted, and crisply edited. The dialog and performances work together to create some real personalities among this small group of vampires who are just trying to get along in modern society while, every now and then, going out at night to see if they can get into the local bars for some action.
How they walk the tightrope of existing in modern society despite their obvious need for human blood is a constant source of both broad and subtle humor. One of the best scenes, for example, is a group meeting where they discuss the mundane details of maintaining a group home. The fussbudget in the group pleads with one of the others to “please put down newspaper on the living room floor” before accosting his next human victims. Later on we see the fussbudget having a conversation with a young female human in that living room about typical dreary “first date” topics while he lays newspaper on the floor around the sofa, thus preparing us for the mess to come.
Set design and practical special effects are surprisingly effective. There’s a lot of wirework here, vampires turn into bats and back, and in one scene we are treated to a fight between two vampires that ranges from floor to wall to ceiling, obviously filmed in a rotating set. Movement and running through the dilapidated house is well choreographed.
It’s clear that a lot of effort went into the planning and execution of this film. If you enjoy offbeat humor and can tolerate some occasional blood and gore, you will be greatly amused!
Review copyright (c) 2016 by Dennis D. McDonald