What We Do in the Shadows

what we do in the shadows

Vampire movies are probably one of the most enduring subgenres, having fascinated spectators for close to a hundred years, early works such as Nosferatu (1922) and Vampyr  (1932) remaining some of the strongest incarnations to this day.

These last few years, vampires have however somewhat turned into a punch line, mostly thanks to film and TV series such as Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and, to an extent, True Blood, which have been substituting teenage fantasy for horror.

While I have always been a sucker for vampire films, I must acknowledge that I had also started to lose hope, fearing that they had succumbed to hype and overkill; two recent works fortunately proved me wrong, one being Jim Jarmush’s beautiful and haunting Only Lovers Left Alive and the other one being this unlikely comedy.

What We Do in the Shadows was co-written and co-directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi who also star here as vampires Vladislav and Viago. The two filmmakers have certainly a knack for comedy, Mr. Clement being known as the taller half of successful New Zealand act Flight of the Conchords, while Mr. Waititi directed the enjoyable Clement-starrer Eagle Vs Shark.

If you are familiar with these works, you should know what to expect, What We Do in the Shadows going for low-key, quirky fun rather than for big gags. To give you an idea, this is the kind of film that will keep you constantly smiling rather than making you laugh out loud, being closer to Wes Anderson’s universe or even to frequent collaborator Rhys Darby’s little-seen series Short Poppies (Mr. Darby officiates as Murray on Flight of the Conchords and is a werewolf here).

The film follows Vladislav, Viago and their roommates as they try to adapt to modern life which offers a new – ordinary – take on the vampire myth. We see them cleaning the house, trying out clothes to look trendy and attempting to get into nightclubs. There is also a Nosferatu-like figure sleeping in the basement, which clearly refers to FW. Murnau’s work as the origin of the genre. What’s particularly striking is how much effort was made into creating realistic – but absurd – situations, which contemporary vampires would be confronted to, providing for quite a few amusing moments. Flight of the Conchords fans will also get their due, mostly thanks for characters reminiscent of the show, from a female follower to gentle, clueless figures.

Certainly deserving to be brought in the light, What We Do in the Shadows is an unexpected fresh and smart comedy, which might reanimate the overexploited vampire subgenre, at least for a short moment.

Director: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi – Actors: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi – Running Time: 1:27 – Year: 2014 – Country: New Zealand
Click here to watch the What We Do in the Shadows trailer
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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.
Fred Thom

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