Mockumentaries are a dime a dozen. They have to tow the fine line between informative and parody without being over the top and just turning into a compilation of cheesy lines and dead-panning into the camera. The topic has to also be one that hasn’t been done to death. What We Do in the Shadows breathes refreshing life into the undead (and rather overdone) topic of vampires and other occult creatures.
Every year, we are subjected to a film about vampires, or some other vampiric abomination. This year is no different, except that these vampires you may know all too well. Writing/directing duo Jermaine Clement & Taika Waititi bring us this new take on vampires in a society that is so over-saturated with bad incarnations of them. The mockumentary style helps give the film a much less serious “Interview with the Vampire” feel, that instead of focusing solely on the past, glances into how they would be integrated into modern day society.
Not only that, but we are given a feel for how different interpretations of a vampire each interact in a world with their specific/stereotypical mannerisms. Nosferatu and Dracula are only some of the different archetypes used. The main focus is not just how they are surviving in the technological age, but also how they are surviving and coexisting in a society that fetishizes/romanticizes vampirism. Of course, in a society where vampires exist, some of our other favorite occult creatures must be around. I’m talking about werewolves, witches, warlocks and of course other fellow undead-ians like zombies.
What We Do in the Shadows is more clever than it has any right to be. It addresses every cliché you have come to expect from films about vampires, but it also honestly acknowledges the humorous aspects of the mythology. Something as simple as waking up from an alarm clock and very cautiously/frightfully opening the curtain and hoping there is no sunlight. The writer/director team of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi show us that they can still deliver on the comedic front like they did in the hit show Flight of the Concords. They perfectly compliment each other with Clement having greater writing experience, and Waititi having more directorial work. Aside from being the prime choices to pen and lead this film, they also made the risky decision of starring in it, which completely paid of in the end. For fans of their previous works, there are also plenty of nods and a few familiar faces.
Nothing is worse than the Young Adult romanticization, and overall de-fanging, of one of the most iconic creatures in horror society. What We Do in the Shadows is a stark reminder of what it truly means to be a vampire, and if such creatures exist, how they really would be spending their time (instead of stalking high schools like some unnamed, popular series). With its smart fiction and sound reasoning, this dark comedy brings back a breed that has until now, become domesticated and tame. I’d like to welcome back the vampires I’ve grown up with. Please don’t eat me.
RATING: ★★★★★★★★★(9/10 stars)
In Select Theaters Now. Find them here!