11th Apr2015

‘What We Do in the Shadows’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stuart Rutherford, Ben Fransham, Jackie van Beek, Elena Stejko, Jason Hoyte, Karen O’Leary, Mike Minogue, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Ian Harcourt, Ethel Robinson, Brad Harding | Written and Directed by Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi

what-we-do-in-the-shadows

Love it or hate it Twilight did a lot of damage for the vampire in pop culture.  When the movies were finally over and done with and we were free of the scourge of the sparkly ones, the bloodsuckers stayed somewhat in the shadows, though recently making a comeback with good movies like Only Lovers Left Alive.  With that spark of life given to the undead fiends, what they now need is a good injection of the red stuff to truly bring them back to glory.  We may just have that in the form of What We Do in the Shadows.

From (one of) the creators of Flight of the Conchords, What We Do in the Shadows follows the undead lives of Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) three vampire flatmates making their way through modern life in New Zealand.  With issues such as the local werewolf population, discovering the Internet and having to deal a newly turned vampire who causes then nothing but trouble, the undead life is never dull.

What We Do in the Shadows is filmed in a documentary style following the lives of the vampires and is something of a breath of fresh air, but I often find this in comedy coming from New Zealand (and Australia too).  It has a more in your face style and a lack of fear in what is found funny and can be used to joke with.  Examples of this in horror would be Bad Taste, Braindead and even Housebound which may not really be a comedy but still has that darkly funny edge to it.  It is this New Zealand style in many ways helps the faux-documentary horror without losing any impact to the film, it fully pulls the audience into believing in the world of the vampires and how they live in the real world and we never once question what we see.

The most surprising thing about the movie is the fact that instead of dumbing down the vampires or changing the lore, they go back to the good old-fashioned fanged monsters of legend.  The life issues they go through put them into situations such as not being able to get into nightclubs without invites and problems with biting into a victim’s main artery and make the situations funny.  These are vampires in the real world, they’ve even seen Lost Boys and enjoy using scenes from it for their own humour.  The comedy is funny and not just about mocking the vampires, it never reaches the level of using parody to make fun of horror, instead this is a true horror comedy.

Viago, Deacon, Vladislav and Petyr (the creepy one in the basement played by Ben Fransham) don’t apologise for what they are, they feed off people and introduce us into that world, at no point do they apologise or pout into the camera, and that is refreshing.  These aren’t emo vampires that hate themselves, in fact the closest thing it gets to Twilight is when the newest vampire Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) uses it as a pick-up line.  He’s an idiot, which is made obvious in the film, especially when he mentions that movie.

The reason why What We Do in the Shadows works so well is that the writers understand horror and fully understand what they have created.  They masterfully manipulate the fantastical world of the vampire and move it into a real-world environment, most importantly knowing what will work and what works for comedy.  There are too many so-called comedies out there at the moment that struggle to raise a laugh, but there are plenty of scenes in What We Do in the Shadows that are legitimate laugh out loud moments.  Some of the funniest of these are the interactions with the werewolves and other vampires.  One of the funniest movies of 2014, What We Do in the Shadows works for fans of comedy and horror alike.

I will admit that I’ve never made time to watch Flight of the Conchords, but what Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi have done with What We Do in the Shadows is so good that I know I now have to make a point of watching some episodes just in the hope that the same comedic style is shown in the show.  Horror comedies can be really hard to pull off, but to also have it in a mock-documentary style? What We Do in the Shadows is not only comedy gold but horror gold and is a must see for anybody who wants to have the creatures of the night brighten up their day.

***** 5/5

What We Do in the Shadows is available on DVD and Blu-ray from 13th April.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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