Blood Brothers (Film Review: “What We Do in the Shadows”)

New Zealand’s mashup of Big Brother-Meets-Dark Shadows-Meets-Twilight. A genre teasing vampire movie that is one bloody good time.

 

SnapShot Plot

What We Do In The Shadows is one of the funniest movies EVER, an hilarious, occasionally gruesome and satisfyingly ghoulish send-up of every trope in the literary and cinematic vampire vault. It takes place in the nighttime cityscape of Wellington, NZ in the form of a documentary being made about a small group of longtime flatmates who happen to be vampires. Upstairs there’s Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav (whose ages run the gamut across several centuries) and down in the cellar we’ve got dear Petyr, a Nosferatu lookalike who’s been dead for 8,000 years. The conceit is that somehow a documentary film crew gained permission to film the boys, who’ve promised not to kill them, and just to be sure each cameraman sports a crucifix around his neck.

The movie’s central narrator/host is Viago, a gentle den mother-type who begins the film as he rises from his casket and goes about the house waking up his pals from their various lairs. Through commentary and visceral literary diagrams/artwork we learn their strange and wacky backgrounds, and observe how – although they are undead creatures of the night with all the legendary powers attributed to their kind – they’re dealing with the same banal issues of all human roommates around the world. Oh look, Deacon hasn’t done the bloody(!) dishes in a while and Vlad thinks that dragging a body down the hall makes up for not dusting. Things get complicated when one of them turns a victim (named Nick) into a new vampire, and let’s just say Nick’s modern hipster personality doesn’t jibe with the old world sensibilities of the group. And even more confusing is when Nick brings his best mate, a very alive and red-cheeked software engineer named Stu, onto the scene. They must decide whether to eat Stu or make him their human mascot as they prowl the nightime streets and clubs of Wellington, mixing with a surprisingly large number of fellow undead creatures, including zombies, witches, and werewolves.

 

“If you’re going to eat a victim on my nice cream couch, put down some newspapers on the floor and some towels, it’s not hard to do!”

Parting Shot

Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, who created the HBO hit series “Flight of the Conchords,” co-wrote, co-directed, and co-star in What We Do in the Shadows. The film works on many levels, not the least of which is the incredible production value. The special effects are quite convincing, and at times truly frightening and shocking until half a beat later when you’re laughing so hard through the horror. Plus, the characters are well conceived and completely distinct from one another, each with his own backstory which comes into play during the course of the movie. And finally, surprisingly for a comedy this broad, the film seems to be saying that even though there are creatures who subsist on drinking your blood it doesn’t mean they don’t have a heart.

What We Do in the Shadows is presently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

YouTube Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAZEWtyhpes

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