After years of negotiations the New Zealand Documentary Board was granted safe access to the secretive world of modern-day vampires. What We Do in the Shadows follows the daily lives of four vampires who live together in a ramshackle old house and confront the realities of 21st century life: paying the rent, keeping peace among roomies, getting into nightclubs and doing five years worth of dishes while maintaining the sanguine requirements of being a vampire. It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in years.
This fresh take on vampires is the creation of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi (Eagle vs. Shark, Boy), two young New Zealand filmmakers. Clement and Waititi play Viago and Valdislav to the hilt as older vampires while Jonathan Brugh is Deacon, a younger less responsible vampire. In a vault in the catacombs of the house lives Peter who is thousands of years old and represents a traditional view of vampires as simply bloodthirsty. Add in all the classic abilities of vampires – flying, hypnotism, silver allergy, etc – and the result is tumultuous fun.
Of course it’s not a documentary; it’s a full-blown comedy, one of the best indies in recent years and a darling at recent film festivals. The screenplay is wonderful, keenly written with a natural comic eye as the men try to explain their lives and deal with each other, various undead and humanity. The lead actors construct characters who are consistently absurd yet possess enough human qualities to create empathy for their modern dilemmas which aren’t that different from us non-vampires. Their encounter with the werewolves made me howl – “We’re werewolves, not swearwolves.”
Watch the trailer and decide if What We Do in the Shadows appeals to you. I found the movie on icefilms.com. Thanks to my friend Kevin for making me aware of it.