What We Do in the Shadows – Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi (2014)
After weeks of watching some pretty heavy stuff, I feel this is justified. I do, usually, love depressing films, most of my favourite films ever are also extremely depressing… but sometimes you need something light and, after finishing my second term of uni yesterday, this is one of those times. Of course, a fictional mockumentary isn’t necessarily going to teach me about the culture of New Zealand, but I will get round to one that does. Anyway, so this weeks entry is a hilarious Vampire mockumentary, a ‘dark comedy’ in quite a different way to some of the others I’ve watched for this blog… I am not usually a comedy person (as you can probably tell from my choice of films) but my boyfriend talked me into this one, and I have to admit I actually laughed all the way through.
The mockumentary follows Viago (above, on the trumpet, played by director Taika Waititi), the fussy, pedantic ‘eighteenth century dandy’ who came to New Zealand in pursuit of a human woman that he’d fallen in love with; the youngest, Deacon (on bass), a nazi vampire who fled Germany after the war; and oldest, Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), formerly known as Vladislav The Poker due to his his tendancy to torture victims through poking. The three live together with their other, 8000 year old flatmate Petyr who makes a few appearances but doesn’t like to be disturbed, in Wellington, New Zealand. The vampires have the documentary crew follow them around to show their everyday lives, but when Petyr bites a guest that they bring home to eat, the three undergo some changes as they adapt to having Nick, a young, new vampire and his human friend Stu around. In disagreement about whether or not he is a good addition to the group, tensions arise in the house.
“Vampires have got a pretty bad rep. We’re not these mopey creatures that live in castles. Well some of.. most of us are. But there are also those of us that like to flat together in really small countries like New Zealand.”
Viago is undoubtedly my favourite of the vampires, he is just so timid and adorable, and his reactions to the unpredictable to erratic actions of his flatmates are honestly priceless. In one scene he starts to lay down newspapers around a woman he brought home to eat, so that he doesn’t get blood around the house when he bites into her, but hits an artery and gets it everywhere looking disappointed in himself.
Their relationship with Stu, the human friend of Nick, allows incredibly comedic scenes, such as the four older vampires discovering technology and using his laptop to google images of virgins, or Vadislav learning how to use a camera. Deacon likes him so much that he knits him a scarf. Stu barely has any lines (does he have any at all?) he just stands looking bemused most of the time, despite the fact that he is in the presence of vampires that could eat him, which is why their fascination with him is so humorous.
Another of my favourite parts are the hilarious twilight-esque run-ins with the unexpectedly overly polite local werewolves that the four have when out about the town. One of the best lines (in my opinion) in the film is surely “We’re werewolves not swearwolves”. If like me, you saw this film and found that you were a big fan of the werewolves, you’ll be thrilled to learn what I found on IMDB earlier;
Given the fact that I am incredibly squeamish when it comes to blood (which there is a lot of in this film), I don’t usually like comedy films and I have absolutely no interest in vampires (it took my bf a lot of convincing to watch this), I found What We Do in the Shadows a really enjoyable and light-hearted watch. And yes it was actually incredibly funny.
I have seen the hype around Taika Waititi’s recent film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and although that was already sitting on my watchlist, I certainly feel inclined to prioritise it now!
You can watch the first six minutes here.