Thursday, March 19, 2015

What We Do In The Shadows (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

What We Do in the Shadows

Director Taika Waititi's raucous and affectionate undead spoof is as free and loose as its jokes. "What We Do in the Shadows" is a vampy cartoon that has the flavor of "This Is Spinal Tap" yet it has an added charm and a flexible innocent energy that those over the top, all too obvious rockers did not seem to have. The humor hits you more, it appears, because the jokes are so rapid and unassuming. Moreover, each character for the most part is fully formed and complete, no cardboard creatures of the night here.

To start with there is Viago (played by Waititi) a gentle, dainty and energetic soul of the night who is delighted by all things dark and dusty. He doesn't bite without exchanging poetry and pleasantries first and foremost. Viago feels the most colorful character and Waititi, although there are laughable bits shared by all the cast, definitely steals the show.

Co-director Jemaine Clement also stars as Vladislav, a kind of Byronic antihero or  Dracula type, the leader of the vampire crash pad who has sex--- or what passes for it--- constantly.

Petyr (Ben Fransham) is the 8,000 year old patriarch who barely utters a sound except for shrieking squeaks. He lurks by intimidation just by the presence of his bald head and rodent like features a la "Nosferatu."

This makes quite a motley crew.

The film is essentially a roommate movie with horror comedy capes and mascara. The story has the good sense to travel light and easy over familiar gothic terrain like a well hydrated bat. The madcap narration is finely interspersed  with terrific horror illustrations from old manuscripts.

There are many laugh out loud moments if not full blown riots, most of it having to do with the aesthetic yearning of Viago countered with the nonchalant aloofness of Vladislav--an Odd Couple in nightshade.

If the sight gags get repetitive, it is the energy of Waititi and Clement that keep everything going with a facile and rapid chemistry and a  detail and delivery that almost equals Mel Brooks in his heyday. Some of the bloodlettings and barbs are unabashedly corny such as Viago hitting an artery during a "date" and a bat wobbling about and crisping itself on a power line, but the silliness never loses a laugh. There is charm in the fact that this episodic mock-tale never takes itself too seriously.

The caring details of lore and and some free wheeling irreverence is well placed.

"What We Do in the Shadows is as much a scarlet tribute to the vampire as it is a ferric and fun night out.

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