Living with your friends is never easy. Flatmates never pull their weight; they don’t tidy and it’s such a pain in the neck when they bring victims home, get blood stains everywhere and then refuse to clean up the mess. Well, maybe that last one is a little niché but it’s certainly accurate of ace Kiwi-comedy What We Do In The Shadows. The new horror mockumentary from Flight of the Conchords’ man Jemaine Clement and his Eagle Vs Shark collaborator buddy Taika Waititi takes a hilariously kitchen-sink look at the day-to-day (or should that be night-to-night?) mundanity of undead Vampire life.
As the opening preface explains, a small documentary crew were granted exclusive access into the lives of four Vampires living in small town New Zealand. We follow the never-ending lives of the bumbling Viago (Waititi), suave Vladislav (Clement), rebellious Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) and ancient Petyr (Ben Fransham) as they fight over the chore wheel, recall struggles with finding the main artery and highlight just how difficult it is to get dressed for a night out when you don’t have a reflection.
However, we soon find out that modern day death can be just as complicated as modern day life when a newly turned bloodsucker joins the fold. What starts as an attempt to connect with the youth of today (it can be difficult getting access to good bars when you need to be invited in) quickly devolves into a nuisance that threatens to expose their existence to the ever-vigilant vampire hunters. As if that wasn’t enough, the promise of an awkward reunion for Vladislav at the annual Unholy Masquerade Ball adds to the tension of the household.
Not only is What We Do In The Shadows one of the year’s funniest offerings, it’ll also appease horror fanatics who may be skeptical of jokers entering their dark genre. A hilarious encounter with Conchords allum Rhys Darby and his pack of reformed werewolves (“We’re Werewolves not swearwolves” he reminds them) showcases the perfect mixture of comedy and visceral transformation horror that beats most poe-faced genre efforts. But it’s that brilliantly subtle Kiwi comedy that Clement and Darby have perfected that make this faux-doc so enjoyable. Co-stars Jonathan Brugh and Taika Waititi are in on the joke too, operating on the exact same wave length and allowing the group to play around with the absurd rules of the Vampire genre.
The end result is an ensemble cast that’s genuinely enjoyable to observe completing even the most mundane tasks, from hoovering to partying. What We Do In The Shadows will no doubt become a Halloween staple and a welcome addition to any spooky-themed movie marathons – and deservedly so.
Words by Simon Bland (@SiTweetsToo).