What We Do in the Shadows (2015)
Directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
In cinema, vampires have made the rounds – from serious films like “Nosferatu” to comedies like “The Lost Boys” to whatever “Twilight” was. Lately, it seemed that public opinion had taken a wooden stake to vampire movies. Then came “What We Do in the Shadows,” which took a mockumentary approach and actually made vampires interesting again.
Four vampires – Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Petyr (Ben Fransham) – share a flat in modern-day New Zealand, which has a small but lively undead population. They allow a documentary crew to chronicle their day-to-day activities, including blood-sucking, day-sleeping, and night-clubbing. When they accidentally turn one presumed victim, Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), into a vampire, they’ll have to deal with his rookie mistakes and avoid eating his very human, very likable friend Stu (Stuart Rutherford).
Clement and Waititi also co-wrote and co-directed “What We Do in the Shadows,” and it shows in the way they seem so comfortable in their roles. They have the timing and deadpan presence to execute the dry jokes. The story of vampires is rooted in centuries-old mythology, and for decades they have been the butt of jokes. Normally, these jokes are simply recycled gags from movies past – and sometimes, these jokes aren’t exceptions. But Clement and Waititi also find refreshing new ways to mock the vampire myth. The humor isn’t vulgar or dumb, like so many comedies are. These New Zealanders do it right. “What We Do in the Shadows” is a hilarious reexamination of the vampire character.