Review: ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ [SXSW 2014]

What We Do In The Shadows Still

What We Do In The Shadows | Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi | SXSW 2014


With What We Do In The Shadows you have a flat out hilarious vampire mockumentary. In New Zealand there is a masquerade ball held where all the creatures of the night assemble in a wild celebration. The New Zealand documentary crew that provide us with footage are following a group of vampires and show us the weeks leading up to the masquerade.

You have Viago (Taika Waititi), Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Petyr (Ben Fransham). Each one of them is as different as the next, varying in rich and wild personalities that you will find humorous in their own ways. Living under one roof, you get some hilarious roommate situations, only with vampire twists. The bloody dishes aren’t done, somewhat forgets to put down a newspaper before killing their pray, etc. Whatever it is, it’s done in a smart, twisted manner, that is cleverly funny.

The vampires do interact with humans, going out at night to clubs (well, only the ones that will invite them in, of course). Viago takes a human named Jackie (Jackie Van Beek) under his wing, in a role that’s known as a human familiar (think a vampires assistant). Jackie desires to be immortal, so she helps Viago and the gang in hopes that they will turn her into one of them. Then there’s Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) who is human just long enough in the film before they turn them into a vampire. Once he’s turned into a vampire he has no where else to go and moves in with them. Next thing you know, Nick’s old human friend Stu (Stu Rutherford) ends up joining the gang as a human, teaching them a thing or two about technology.

Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s script knows what its doing, and the cast work well off each other to create a very laugh-worthy environment. It’s a complete and balanced act, with no one actor shining more than another (although I found Stu to be a highlight). Everyone gets their fair share of moments to shine, and it results in a fun and enjoyable viewing experience. It’s got plenty of the clever wisecrack humor found in Clement’s work with Flight Of The Conchords. If you have even the slightest funny bone in your body, you will find plenty of chuckles throughout its runtime.

I have a funny feeling that What We Do In The Shadows is destined to be a cult hit. It’s totally refreshing and there’s loads of quotable material. It’s definitely meant for a niche audience, but once it finds it, I’m sure it’s going to take off. It was without a doubt one of the most memorable and joyous films that I saw at SXSW.

8.0/10