VOD Review: What We Do In The Shadows
What We Do in the Shadows is a fun film, one that uses a mockumentary style to make its satire more biting. I wish I loved it more than I did; while this film charmed my brain, it couldn’t enthrall my heart.
It’s Halloween, and just around the corner is Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi. It just so happens that Waititi wrote, directed, and starred in What We Do in the Shadows, a movie about Vampires. Coincidence? I think not.
What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
A documentary crew in New Zealand has the chance of an eternal lifetime: to document the night to night lives of a group of Vampires. Primarily liaising through Viago (Taika Waititi, Flight of the Conchords), we also meet his grave-mates: Vladislav (co-writer/director Jemaine Clement) the brooding, Deacon the pompous, and Petyr… the bloodthirsty.
The adventures of this clutch of crazies are both mythical and mundane. We see them hit the clubs, argue over chores, and get into it with a pack of hooligan were-wolves. Throughout, Viago tries to remain a good host, a terrifying task indeed.
Breaking the Third and a Half Wall
The documentary nature of What We Do in the Shadows lets Waititi and Clement skewer every vampire trope in the book while maintaining a thin veneer of respectability. Unlike Deadpool, all the fourth wall breaking is done by the film itself, allowing the actors to “play it straight”. We know that each Vampire is a sendup of different decades of vampire pop-culture. The Vampires themselves see it simply as generational preferences. Sure Nick the new Vampire is a little… “sparkly”, but hey, that’s just kids these days!
Most of the humor comes from this juxtaposition of semi-serious characters dealing with ludicrous situations. It works very well, and just about every bit in What We Do in the Shadows had me thinking to myself “that was a really clever joke!”. I found myself surprised at the end, then, that I hadn’t really laughed all that much throughout the film.
Your Mileage May Vary
Movies are fake. They are a bunch of actors acting out artificial scenarios. But we are supposed to suspend disbelief and follow the internal logic of the movie… usually. Spoof comedies, such as Airplane! or Borat tell us to suspend that suspension while having the actors maintain character. It’s a great genre, and I usually love it. Airplane! is one of my top ten favorite comedies. I don’t know why What We Do in the Shadows only affected me intellectually. I recognized a lot of good jokes in this movie, I just wasn’t laughing.
This isn’t to say that What We Do in the Shadows isn’t funny. If you like absurdity, satire, or just people in costumes hamming it up, you are most likely going to love this movie. The acting is solid, and the characters are all glorious send-ups. A drinking game revolving around catching all the references would probably lead to a BAC that would incapacitate even the hardiest night-walker.
In this instance I’d recommend to do what I say, not what I did and laugh yourself batty. Don’t mind me; I probably just had too much garlic to eat before watching this film.