It’s Worth Getting Into The Shadows
You would think there’s no more fun to be wrung from the vampire genre. Then along comes this New Zealand comedy, an absolute gem of a movie from the ‘Flight of the Conchords’ gang (itself one of the best comedies in recent memory), nailing the horrific/comic possibilities of four vampires sharing a house together. The BBC had made ‘Being Human’, which turned into a silly supernatural soap, but’What We Do In The Shadows’ is closer to MTV’s ‘The Real World’, alternately hilarious and gruesome.
Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement star as vampires Viago and Vladislav (â€˜Vlad The Pokerâ€™) who house-share with Deacon and Peter, the oldest, a Nosferatu-creature who starts the day with a live chicken. When they’re not all arguing about the washing up, they go clubbing, only door policy often keeps them out (‘You have to be invited in’) and they tend to bump into the werewolves led by Aton, played byÂ Rhys Darby, who wasÂ band manager Murray in ‘Conchords’.
When the vampires let the werewolves visit they’re first worried that they’ll pee on everything and then have to open the windows to clear that doggy smell. Deacon has a familiar, Jackie, rather like the hopeless fan of the Conchords, who always gets a raw deal from her master, finding herself endlessly clearing the yard or wiping up blood on the vague promise of being given eternal life.
There’s a lot of fun to be had from the night travails of the vampire lifestyle; not being able to see yourself in a mirror before you go to a bar means you might have chosen really terrible clothes. And then there’s the problem of bragging – what’s the point of having eternal life if you can’t boast about it to girls? Sweet lovesick Viago was given a locket by the girl he lost and tries to wear it from time to time but it’s pure silver and ‘you know, it burns a little.’
The loose plot follows the acceptance of a newbie, cool Nick, into the fusty gang of bloodsuckers, which causes divided loyalties, but the directors just use this as a peg to hang beautifully observed set-pieces. They understand that the comedy must be sharp but the horror real and in places really disturbing, notably an encounter in a supermarket and a chase-and-kill hunt for a victim. Dry, self-deprecating wit and a love of words is something which brings New Zealand very close to England in terms of comedy.
Clearly a future cult movie with some very quotable lines – ‘We’re werewolves, not swearwolves!’ admonishes Anton – it’s over all too quickly and deserves a sequel. Apparently it was born out of 125 hours of improv footage, so there MUST be more fun to be had…see it if you want an antidote to the moony, anodyne ‘Twilight’.