Friday, February 13, 2015

Movie Review: What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do In the Shadows
Directed by: Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi.
Written by: Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi.
Starring: Jemaine Clement (Vladislav), Taika Waititi  (Viago), Jonathan Brugh (Deacon), Cori Gonzalez-Macuer (Nick), Stuart Rutherford (Stu), Ben Fransham (Petyr), Jackie van Beek  (Jackie), Elena Stejko (Pauline Ivanovich), Jason Hoyte (Julian).

Anyone who has ever had roommates will relate to the first scene in What We Do in the Shadows. In it, Viago (Taika Waititi) gathers his three flat mates for a meeting. The dishes are piling up, and it`s Deacon`s turn to do them, but he refuses. It`s embarrassing to bring people over to the house with all those dishes over there. And, by the way, would it be too much to ask that before you kill one of your victims to put some newspapers or towels down, so their blood doesn’t get all over the furniture. And for god sake`s Petyr, can you sweep up some of the skeletons outside your lair.

Okay, so maybe some of those problems are more specific to these four flat mates in New Zealand. They are vampires, ranging in age from 8,000 years – the Nosferatu like Petyr – to the young bad boy of the group, at only 183 – Deacon. Then there`s Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) – who is over 800 years old, and was once known for his torture chamber – which he doesn’t much use anymore. Viago, a European dandy who followed a woman to New Zealand decades ago, only to get there too late (his servant put the wrong postage on his coffin, and it took 18 months for him to make it). These vampires are set in their ways – they still dress in their old clothes – and don’t know much about the modern world. But then they are joined by Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) – a recent vampire – who along with his friend Stu (Stuart Rutherford) – a human – shows them some of the modern ways.

Directed by Clement and Waititi, What We Do in the Shadows is a hilarious mockumentary pretty much from beginning to end. There is hardly a vampire cliché that the film doesn’t cover, and poke fun at – everything from F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu to Stephanie Meyer`s Twilight – gets a good ribbing – and the film finds time to poke fun at werewolves and zombies as well. It doesn’t shy away from the blood – but even when there are geysers of it squirting all over the place, it’s mainly played for laughs.

Vampires are, of course, over exposed right now – the Twilight phenomenon made sure of that, so the time to poke fun of them is just about right. Clement and Waititi are great in the movie – their performances are the two strongest in the movie – and they have good instincts are both writers and directors. This is a film by vampire lovers for vampire lovers – and one of the funniest films of the year. This is a cult film in the making – and just about a perfect one.

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