Front Row at the Movies
"What We Do In the Shadows" Goes Completely Batty
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
As it turns out, there are four vampires currently residing in a suburb of Wellington -- so if you wanted to interview them for a documentary that’s where you’ve got to take your nervous film crew, brandishing crucifixes and hoping for the best.
That’s the premise of "What We Do In the Shadows," a funny film that’s still playing at the Tropic Cinema.
Yes, it’s a mockumentary (in the Christopher Guest mode), this one whipped up by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, a couple of New Zealander comics of Māori descent.
You’d recognize Clement as the voice of the cockatoo in those "Rio" films or as Boris the Animal in "Men In Black 3." Waititi wrote and directed "Boy," the top grossing film in New Zealand in 2010.
In addition to writing and directing "What We Do In the Shadows," they play two of the vampires -- Vladislav, aged 862, and Viago, aged 317. The other bloodsuckers are handled by Jonathan Brugh and Ben Fransham -- Deacon, aged 183, and Petyr, aged 8,000.
At those ages, you can imagine a certain amount of tedium setting into their daily lives. After all, they have to sit in their dark apartment during the day, only coming out at night to stalk victims. With such limited access to the outside world, technology has passed them by. (Think: Mel Brooks doing his 2,000-Year-Old Man routine).
Deacon has a human servant named Jackie (played by Jackie Van Beek) who does his bidding in hopes he will turn her into a live-forever vampire. She even offers up her boyfriend Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) as a tasty snack.
And Nick has a pal who’s a computer geek (Stu Rutherford), a possible lifeline to the modern world.
A highlight of the story is a masquerade ball attended by our old-timers, along with a dance floor filled with zombies, witches, and assorted succubi.
Fan are still chucking over the funny parts.
"Loved it when two of the characters got into a physical confrontation and transformed into bats. Everyone else shouts in unison: ‘Oooooh, bat fight!!!’."
"Loved the running gags they did with mirrors throughout the movie," chuckles another. "The fact that they couldn't get a sense of how they looked when dressing up to go clubbing…"
"Deacon's ‘erotic’ dance," laughs a third.
"The sandwich joke had me in stitches!" sniggers still another.
One moviegoer summed it up best: "When you very nearly spray a mouthful of drink over the person in front of you, its generally a good indicator the movie is pretty funny."