Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Film Review: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Madman Entertainment
The combination of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi is obviously something that continuous to make pure comedy gold for more than a decade now. Although these guys are obviously multi-talented, things like What We Do in the Shadows underline that their humor skills are simply incredible.

Set in Wellington in New Zealand, this mockumentary follows the lives of four vampires who live there. Every one of them comes from a different era, but Viago, a former German dandy, mainly acts as the camera crew’s host and narrator. His vampire friends/roommates are more focused on other things, mainly drinking blood and finding ways to get into new and hip clubs and bars (they have to be invited in, of course). When a new vampire, a local by the name of Nick enters their small crew, things start to change and get even weirder.

This is the primary focus of the film, and more or less, the only one. The entire cast of the film provides one great performance where each character seamlessly fits into the bigger picture. Here, Clement and Waititi once more show off their ability to merge absurd ideas with the odd pacing of a New Zealand popular culture and a distancing mellow vibe that covers everything and everyone.

But, their talent for finding humor included very small details as well. For example, the costumes of the different vampires are completely phenomenal, but at the same time, they are not just there so that they can look nice. Instead, they are also an integral part used for the development of the jokes. For example, the vampires don’t have a reflection, so they must resort to drawing one another to show how they look during their long dress up sessions before hitting the town at night. This alone shows the meandering thought process of both authors, which lead to a hilarious film.

Like Housebound, another solid horror comedy from New Zealand, What We Do in the Shadows is also ready to go all out on some cinematographic element that is totally unexpected. In this case, the levitation of the characters is used as a great comic device, although many smaller horror films like this would simply go for verbal jokes throughout (which are much easier to do). As a whole, regardless of what is taking place on the screen, it never loses its pacing.

This What We Do in the Shadows film review should be clear about the fact that I think that Clement and Waititi are comic geniuses and this film is the direct result of that fact.