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What We Do In The Shadows - Film Review

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Published November 17th 2014
New Zealand Vampire Horror Comedy With A Difference
As an antidote to Twilight (and the many teenage romantic vampire movies that it has spawned) comes this welcome light-hearted relief from New Zealand, What We Do In The Shadows.

It's a refreshingly funny mockumentary that will appeal to those who enjoyed another New Zealand show, Flight of the Conchords, especially as it is written, directed and stars Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi who were also involved with that TV comedy.

This however is more of a bloodbath, but along the lines of Kath and Kim meets kitsch goth horror.

What We Do In The Shadows
Mockumentary fun in What We Do In The Shadows

The premise of the film is that we are watching a fly on the wall documentary about a motley crew of vampire flatmates living in a rickety old house in the suburbs of Wellington. They may be the living dead, but they still have arguments over the unwashed dishes and what outfit to wear - particularly difficult when you don't have a reflection.

While there is a constant nod to Twilight, it's always tongue in cheek. Instead of nubile teenage heartthrobs, our lovable players look more like they are getting on for 40 and like a few beers, or in this case virgin's blood. There's also a hilarious run-in with the local werewolves in the park, led by wonderfully dour actor Rhys Darby, another Flight of the Conchords regular. It all culminates in a grand vampire ball that ends in a big face-off between chief vampires, zombies and the like.

What We Do In The Shadows, film review, New Zealand, comedy, mockumentary
A motley crew of lovable characters feature in What We Do In The Shadows

Starting off gently, the movie takes you through each of our likeable characters' back stories. There's romantic Viago (Taika Waititi), wild and sexy Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) and rough-edged Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) who are assisted by down at heel housewife Jackie to find them new victims.

When they are forced to help a newbie vampire and dim brute of a lad get to grips with his plight, the lives of our outcasts start to transform as they are introduced to Facebook, digital cameras and can finally access the coolest clubs. The new vampire also brings along his best mate Stu, a human who all the age-old vampires like so much, they fight their instinct to kill him.

What We Do In The Shadows film review, New Zealand, vampire comedy
Twilight remade New Zealand style

It's touches like these that will leave a wry smile on your face or hearty laughs bellowing out throughout most of the film. This is New Zealand's answer to the glossy US vampire movies. It's packed with the practicalities of suburbia and surly NZ cheek, and it pumps welcome new blood into what is quickly becoming a predictable and stale conveyor belt of vampire tales.

Rating: 8/10

What We Do In The Shadows
Certification: 15
Run Time: 86 mins
Released: November 21, 2014
Distributor: Metrodome

Jemaine Clement - Vladislav
Taika Waititi - Viago
Jonathan Brugh - Deacon
Cori Gonzalez-Macuer - Nick
Stuart Rutherford - Stu
Ben Fransham - Petyr
Jackie van Beek - Jackie
Rhys Darby - werewolf Anton
Simon Vincent - werewolf Matt
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Why? Refreshing vampire horror comedy
When: From Nov 21, 2014
Where: Cinemas everywhere from Nov 21
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