“What We Do in the Shadows” (2014) starring Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement

[1] The more you “know” about vampires, the more you’ll enjoy this!

[2] It pokes fun at every part of the vampire mythology without resorting to simply being a parody of other movies.

[3] …the wide range of comedy used, from slapstick to satire and everything in between, is probably the biggest reason why this movie does not feel forced.

[4] Some comedies try too hard to make you laugh and end up the character are being ridiculously stupid and unlikeable, but this isn’t the case, their character’s goofiness is so believable that you find their stupidity quite adorable.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

The story follow the lives of Viago (Taika Waititi- before he hit it big in Hollywood), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Vladislav (Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords) – three flatmates who are just trying to get by and overcome life’s obstacles, like being immortal vampires who must feast on human blood. Hundreds of years old, the vampires are finding that beyond sunlight catastrophes, hitting a victim’s main artery, and not being able to get a sense of their wardrobe w/o a reflection-modern society has them struggling w/ the rent, chores, getting into clubs, and overcoming personal conflicts.

About 125 hrs. of footage was shot for this comedy/horror/mockumentary (which I saw on Amazon), most of which was improvised by the cast. Editing that down to a 90-minute movie took almost a year. Waititi and Clement (who are also the writers/directors) held screenings in the US after a successful Kickstarter campaign. This is the kind of fun/quirky movie that we need in these difficult (quarantine) times! There are a few scenes which include blood. The humor can get dark, which I’ve read is common in New Zealand. The actors- professional and amateur- have easy chemistry w/ each other. I was surprised by the quality of the special effects, which seemed quite good for a low-budget movie.

Each vampire is modeled on one from a famous vampire movie. Petyr (the oldest one) is silent/scary, resembling Count Orlok from Nosferatu. Deacon is like Bela Lugosi’s flamboyant Dracula. Vlad is like Gary Oldman’s Dracula. Nick compares himself to Edward from Twilight. Viago is sensitive/stylish like Louis- Brad Pitt’s character in Interview with the Vampire. Vlad refers to himself as “Vlad the poker,” a joke on “Vlad the impaler,” the 15th-century Transylvanian who was the main inspiration for Dracula. There is also a housewife/wannabe vampire (Jackie), a low-key IT guy (Stu) who befriends the vampires, and a pack of werewolves (headed by Rhys Darby- one of New Zealand’s top comics). Watch the trailer below.

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