Jemaine Clement Taika Waititi Jonathan Brugh Cori Gonzalez Macuer Stuart Rutherford
I’m not much of a fan of vampires, but I really chuckled during What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary about four vampires who are flat mates in Wellington, New Zealand. I was a fan of HBO’s Flight of the Conchords for a two years, with Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. Now, Clement and Taika Waititi (writers, directors, producers, and stars of this production) have created a similar show in terms of its wit and dry—sometimes black—humor.
We get a clue right from the beginning when the story opens with an alarm ringing at 6:00 (pm), and a hand reaching out of a casket to turn it off. This is Viago (Waititi), the more fastidious mate, who will awaken the others for a flat meeting. It seems that Deacon (Brugh) hasn’t washed the dishes for five years, and that is his assigned chore. Vladislav (Clement) sides with Viago in pressuring Deacon to do his job, stating that it’s embarrassing to bring guests into the apartment with the dishes, splattered with blood, piled up to the ceiling. Deacon’s defense is that the guests are going to be killed anyway, so what the f---, but Viago and Vlad are insistent. The fourth mate is Petyr (Ben Fransham) who is 8,000 years old and lives in the basement in a crypt. He has just bitten Nick (Macuer), turning him into vampire who will be a thorn in the flesh for the others throughout the rest of the story, his main problem being that he blabs to everyone about being a vampire.
Another funny vein throughout the story is that the vampires—who normally want to have their identities hidden—have agreed to have a documentary made about them, so a camera is following them everywhere. Of course, Nick brings this up when they tell him to stop bragging.
Excitement builds as everyone is looking forward to the annual Unholy Masquerade in the Cathedral of Despair, but Vlad goes into a rage when someone else is announced as the guest of honor. He stays home to pout while the others take off in splendid costumes. (Since they can’t see their images in a mirror, they have to consult the others about what to wear). Once again, Nick creates a problem by bringing his human friend Stu along, endangering his life, of course. This creates a stir at the gala when the vampires realize they have a human in their midst, whereupon in strides Vlad in full costume ready to take on the special guest with whom he shares a chaotic past.
When things get truly out of hand, the mates, who have developed a fondness for Stu despite their normally cold hearts, make a hasty departure, only to encounter werewolves lying in wait for them. This transitioning from one situation to another, each with its dilemmas and contradictions, makes for an entertaining, delightful show.
A spoof about vampires with its own charm.
Grade: B+ By Donna R. Copeland