A review of the irresistible mockumentary “What We Do in the Shadows,” starring Jemaine Clement (“Flight of the Conchords”). Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
The reality of being a vampire, as we learn in the irresistible mockumentary “What We Do In the Shadows,” has many hardships. When seducing someone, you have to remember to put down newspapers first; those severed arteries can quickly ruin a floor. If you want to know how you look in a new outfit, you have to prevail upon your roommates to make a sketch — vampires, of course, aren’t visible in mirrors. And, in the Wellington, New Zealand, house where you’ve lived with your flatmates for hundreds of years, things get awfully messy. “Vampires,” intones the brooding Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), “don’t do dishes.”
Clement, who’s got a wonderfully funny I-haven’t-yet-caught-up quality to his sleepy deadpan (it’s as if he’s woken up in a strange land, and is trying to bluff his way along), is best known from HBO’s goofball “Flight of the Conchords.” Here, he shares the writing and directing with Taika Waititi (who plays the cheeriest of the vampires, Viago), and they’ve cleverly constructed it as a reality show — a sort of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” but with vampires. (All the crew, we’re assured, are wearing crucifixes, for their own safety.) Like “Conchords,” it’s often hilariously funny; like “Conchords,” it’s got more than a few dead spots, so to speak — and might have benefitted from some tighter editing
But “What We Do” is nonetheless a kick; particularly the control-freak werewolf played by Rhys Darby (manager Murray from “Conchords”), who’s concerned about his fellow wolves getting their clothes off quickly during transformation, to avoid ripping nice garments (“You just bought that!”). And it’s good bloody fun just hanging out with the vamps at their house, listening to them squabble, watching them make pottery (vampires, with a lot of time on their hands, have many hobbies), and learning about rituals such as the Procession of Shame. (“Shame! Bad vampire!”)
Movie Review ★★★
‘What We Do In the Shadows,’ with Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Rhys Darby, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford, Jackie Van Beek. Written and directed by Clement and Waititi. 85 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Sundance (21+).
“Just leave me alone to do my dark bidding on the Internet!” pouts Vladislav, like any guy fed up with his meddling roommates. Watch this one late at night, preferably with a crowd — and enjoy the howls.
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