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article imageReview: ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ is bloody clever Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 17, 2015 in Entertainment
In the skillful comedy ‘What We Do in the Shadows,’ a film crew is granted permission to chronicle the lives of four flatmates who happen to be centuries old vampires.
The mockumentary is a wonderful way to shine a spotlight on important events or issues, but it also has the potential to be incredibly entertaining when applied to less serious or even unrealistic subjects. Giving an authentic quality to an absurd storyline can be very satisfying. In the case of What We Do in the Shadows, the film crew is chronicling the lives of a group of older vampires who share a flat in New Zealand.
Viago (Taika Waititi) was somewhat of a dandy when he was turned nearly 400 years ago so he naturally assumes the role of house minder. Vladisav (Jemaine Clement) is the group's handsome womanizer though he's lost some of his virility over the years and Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) is the rebellious bloodsucker who ignores the chore wheel. Petyr (Ben Fransham) is messy too but he's 8,000 years old and sleeps in a stone tomb so no one really presses the issue. When the newly transformed Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) joins the group, he opens their eyes to the technical new age offerings while disregarding all the rules that have governed and protected their lifestyles for centuries. With the Unholy Masquerade only months away, a confrontation is almost inevitable.
Eccentric doesn’t quite describe this hilarious romp on the not-so dark side. The film opens as Viago gathers everyone for a flat meeting, in which they discuss blood stains on the now red couch and five-year-old dirty dishes. Each vampire has confession time with the camera during which they address it directly and gripe about each other. They play with their food, seducing their prey and then cause them to have delusions of eating worms. They can fly, hypnotize their victims and transform into animals. While they fraternize with witches and zombies, werewolves are their sworn enemies. Deacon has a familiar (a.k.a. servant) that does all of his daytime bidding in exchange for the promise of eternal life — eventually.
Jonathan Brugh  Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi in a scene from  What We Do in the Shadows
Jonathan Brugh, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi in a scene from 'What We Do in the Shadows'
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Clement and Waititi are also the movie’s co-writers and directors. Combining their extensive and effective comedy experience produces a consistently hilarious film that capitalizes on the genre’s conventions. Moreover, the script is exceptionally witty with lines you’ll love and love to repeat. (“We’re werewolves, not swear-wolves!”) Positioning the production as a project with “The New Zealand Documentary Board” and making minor “errors” during filming, such as letting the mic drop into the frame, simply adds to the illusion of the mockumentary. And Clement’s insistence that vampires are real during promotional interviews demonstrates his sense of humour and commitment to the film.
The actors are all perfectly cast and excellent in their roles. They appear wholly dedicated to the vampire caricatures they depict (see Deacon’s private performance for his roommates), indicating an understanding of their centuries or weeks of bloody history. In spite of Petyr’s minimal screen time, Fransham is flawless each time he does make an appearance.
Without question, this movie is bloody fantastic all the way through.
Directors: Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
Starring: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi and Jonathan Brugh
More about what we do in the shadows, jemaine clement, Taika Waititi, jonathan brugh, Ben Fransham
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