While purporting to be a mock-doco, WwditS is essentially a reality show about for swinging bachelors of greatly varied ages and from wildly differing backgrounds. The only thing they have in common is that they are all vampires.
Viago (Taiki Waititi) is the quiet and insecure guy who just wants to be liked. Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) is the confident and flamboyant guy who does stuff his way. Deacon is the laid back guy who has seen it all and responds to every request with ‘I’ll do it later’. And Petyr is the 800 year old guy who just likes human blood and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks…
It seems that guys are guys regardless of whether they have fangs or not. Their banter is of the same tone as so many bachelor pads; ‘why haven’t you done the dishes?’, ‘where are we heading out tonight?’, ‘stop bringing strange people back to the flat’, but with the twist of having more a vampire-centric bent.
Though What we do in the Shadows deals with the lighter side of vampirism, the issues with daylight, juggling familiars, the politics of dealing with other fantasy creatures – a couple of run-ins with werewolves, fronted by the inimitable Rhys Darby “Come on guys, are we werewolves or ‘swear-wolves’?”, prove highlights – and the baggage that comes with centuries of living in the same confined space and only venturing out at night.
The only pivotal moment is when one vampire ‘turns’ the wrong guy, a man who cannot abide by the usual rules. The most important of these is confidentiality, and the four housemates stand aghast as he wanders through a crowded nightclub casually telling one and all he is, in fact, a vampire. The problem is, while the new guy is a dick, his still human friend is such a nice bloke that they can’t kick him out of the house.
Yes the spirit of Flight of the Conchords remains strong with this one.
For what was no doubt a low budget affair, the film utilises the special effects quite effectively. The practical effects are believable, the CGI is kept at a minimum and some of the stock vampiric abilities are cleverly implemented.
What we do in the Shadows will inevitably be dubbed a cult film, but I think what they really mean here is ‘quite good; not great’. Appreciating the film is like panning for gold, there is quite a bit of silt and mud to get through, but the patient are rewarded with occasional nuggets of hilarity.
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. Too good to remain in the shadows, but the fact is sincere vampire films do enough to lampoon the genre without assistance.