Uncharted Cinema #4: What We Do in the Shadows

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Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement, New Zealand, 2014, 86 min.

Read about the Uncharted Cinema Project here.

Before: I had wanted to see this but missed it. I’m glad I get the opportunity now. I expect it to be light, funny and clever. I don’t know what else to expect besides an amusing but forgettable time.

After: What we Do in the Shadows is the latest comedic take on the vampire genre. This one is played as a mockumentary following a quartet of vampires living together in a flat in New Zealand.

A lot of the humor comes from the the different spins the filmmakers put on the typical problems that all mortal roommates have. Those problems are compounded by the fact that the roommates are all from very different eras, and have very different needs.

The main subject of the documentary is Viago (writer/director Taika Waititi), a british dandy from the 1800’s. Jermaine Clement (the other writer/director) plays Vladislav, a sort of Vlad the impaler dark-ages type vampire. Jonny Brugh is Deacon, the young brash vampire from the turn of the century, and Petyr (Ben Fransham) is the old nosfertu who lives in the basement and has been around for thousands of years.

We are introduced to their day to day and a bit of the modern vampire culture that the movie creates. It’s funny, and clever, and there are some great sequences. Eventually, things take a turn when a new vampire, and his mortal friend, are introduced into the mix.

The whole thing satirizes the points of the modern vampire trend pretty well, but you could argue that there isn’t enough meat here to warrant a feature. That being said, everyone was game to make it work. The production values are really good, and the filmmakers wringed every drop of comedy out of the simple premise that they possible could. The result is smart, amusing and definitely fun.

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