Saturday, 6 June 2015

No.215 : What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows at the IMDb

You may have thought that vampires living at home was as old a concept as the reality TV ‘found footage’ film but what happens when you resurrect both old standards and mash them into one? Hilarity ensues!

Set in present day Wellington, New Zealand the film documents the lives of a group of vampires as they prepare for their annual gathering on the 6th of June at pm ‘666!’. Captions at the start state that the cameramen are all wearing crucifixes and have been promised that they won’t be bitten. It’s not clear what the vampires hope to gain, but as is often the case in such films centuries long practices can all be dismantled in the space of a 90 minute documentary as they find out about themselves and the world at large.

The vampires cover most of the usual neck biting tropes with my favourite being Petyr, a Nosferatu style vampire who doesn't say anything and lives in his coffin. Vladislav is more your middle eastern type vampire and is played by Jemaine Clement from ‘Flight of the Conchords’ with no little panache - he reminded me a lot of ‘Toast of London’. For your money you also get Deacon who is a bit more progressive in his outlook and a bit more of a swashbuckling type.

The film follows their daily routines and interaction with their ‘familiars’ - humans who do their bidding in return for a promise to be made vampires themselves at some point in the future. The rules of vampire lore that you have come to expect are played out well for laughs, such as our guys being unable to get into a disco unless the bouncers invite them in.

We also witness them going for feeds and the mess that is left afterwards and their unfortunate interactions with a group of smelly werewolves and with the hapless representatives of law enforcement who are more interested in health and safety violations than the dead bodies in the basement.

Things begin to change for the group when a new convert shows them the wonders of modern technology, letting one make contact with his familiar 70 years after he was sent the wrong way to New Zealand after an error in the postage payment.

As the big day approaches the guys all have their own worries, not least because the fabled ‘Beast’ will be guest of honour. Can they all survive the modern world and the invasion of reality TV on their closely guarded privacy?

This is a fun film with a lot to like. Fair enough it covers a lot of well worn ground but it doesn't take itself seriously and the trim 80 minutes runtime means it doesn't outstay its welcome.

The make up and costumes are great and there are plenty of laughs and a few shocks - that messy feeding was horrific! There are good special effects as our guys casually fly about their home although the werewolf transformations are wisely kept at a distance.

I liked the bumbling cops who put a werewolf mauling down to a sad faced innocent dog - “It’s happening once a month” says the policewoman as the full moon shines behind her.

If you can get over the ridiculous conceit of a group of 800 year old vampires letting a film crew in their house you’ll find a lot to enjoy in the film which celebrates and mocks all aspects of the vampire mythos equal measure. Anyway, if you wait beyond the credits you get an extra message compelling you to forget all that you have seen.

What are we reviewing again?

Best Bit - Messy feeding

‘W’ Score - 20/23

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