Life as a vampire must get pretty tedious after awhile. Sure, you're immortal and all, but things can get pretty dull after a couple centuries. And there's so many rules: stay out of the sun, avoid silver and crucifixes, only drink human blood, blah-blah-blah. Even turning into a bat can get old. So why not share this burden with your fellow bloodsuckers and try to lead a reasonably normal "life" in this modern age? Such is the premise for What We Do in the Shadows, a comedic "mockumentary" look at the mundane, day-to-day (night-to-night?) trials and tribulations of a group of vampires sharing a house in New Zealand.
Ostensibly a documentary about the flatmates preparing for the upcoming Unholy Masquerade (a one-night bacchanal for all of New Zealand's undead), What We Do in the Shadows introduces us to its subjects, a fanged quartet of varying three-digit ages who each represent a classic vampiric example from pop culture. There's Viago (Taika Waititi), a fussy fop who pines away for his true love that got away; the medieval Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), a.k.a. "Vlad the Poker"; Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), the youngest at age 183 and the self-proclaimed "bad boy" of the group; and the incredibly old and decrepit, Nosferatu-esque Petyr (Ben Fransham). Into this tight-knit group comes the newly vamped-up Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), a tattooed slacker who fancies himself "that guy from Twilight" who's presence is put up with since he introduced them all to his mate Stu (Stuart Rutherford), an unassuming "pre-deceased" human who, after turning them on to the Internet, they have all vowed "not to eat".
Insanely clever and consistently hilarious, What We Do in the Shadows offers several surprises as well, not the least of which for me is that it works even though it is mostly improvised, a practice I typically loathe. It also features some quite effective special effects, most of them practical (always a plus in this age of over-CGI'ed madness), from spewing arterial veins to "bat fights" to a roaming pack of blue collar werewolves. And what other movie has vampires espousing on the virtues of virgin blood and arguing over a chore wheel? Written and directed by co-stars Waititi and Clement (of Flight of the Conchords fame), What We Do in the Shadows is a cult movie in the making; see it now so you can be the one saying "you gotta see this!"
MD Rating: A-
What We Do in the Shadows is now available on DVD and Blu-ray:
Review by Kirby Holt, creator and editor of Movie Dearest, The QuOD: The Queer Online Database and the Out Movie Guide.