FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: “What We Do in the Shadows” stars Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Eagle vs Shark), Jermaine Clement (Gentlemen Broncos, Don Verdean), Johny Brugh (How to Meet Girls from a Distance, 800 Words [TV series]), Cori Gonzalez-Macuer (7 Days [TV series]), Stu Rutherford (Boy), Ben Fransham (30 Days of Night, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers), and Jackie van Beek (Eagle vs Shark, Uphill). It was written and directed by Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement. Months leading up to an annual event held for supernatural beings, a documentary crew heads to New Zealand to film three vampires living in a flat together. Comedy ensues, as being a undead bloodsucker isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.
Ever since I saw “Gentlemen Broncos” I’ve been wanting to dive into more works involving Jermaine Clement, who played the hilarious pivotal role of Ronald Chevalier in the film. One day, I stumbled upon a trailer for “What We Do in the Shadows,” and had to see it. It took me a long time to acquire it, but as soon as I did I made sure to pop it into my blu-ray player and watch. What shocked me the most about this release is how it is only an hour and twenty-five minutes long. Just a while back I saw a “Lost” episode that was around that length, so that tells you a lot about how short that movie is (and how long that episode was). Typically, animated films run that length, but after viewing this movie I can see why it was that short. Being as how this is a mockumentary on the lives of vampires leading up to a big event that occurs annually, there is hardly any narrative that takes place. We are merely watching vampires live out their lives how they normally do, with a mixture of comedy involved. While I enjoyed this film for its laughs, silly visual effects, and fresh view of the culture of these supernatural creatures, I will say that it loses its flare the further I dug in. In the beginning, I was cracking up at these vampires’ lifestyle. It was interesting and completely odd, but I love that kind of stuff. For about forty minutes of this whirlwind adventure I was enjoying every second, but very soon I grew accustomed to the society of vampires, and the big laughs soon subsided. It’s not that this was a normal viewing experience; there are plenty of things that are unexpected and unordinary when compared to other movies. However, I took grip around these writers style of jokes, and it became harder to really surprise a laugh out of me. When that happened, I looked for a story, and because there was hardly any in sight, this film began to lose its tenacity fast. That’s when I realized why it was so short; if it went on longer, I’m sure that I would’ve grown tired. That’s not to say that I didn’t have fun throughout its entirety. Even when this movie grew progressively lackluster in jokes, there were still a few moments that aroused a laugh out of me towards the end, and my interest in this feature’s culture was present throughout. The acting in this was really good, with everyone doing a solid job. They made sure to make it seem believable, as if this was an actual occurrence, and they succeeded. I enjoyed all of the characters and their chemistry, whether it was in flying arguments or bickering. The visual effects in this, while low-budget and practical, were terrific and added an extra layer of comedy that really appealed to me. That, with a mixture of the color grading/cinematography, made this film pop. It was dark, yet surreal, and I liked looking at this movie in general. I’m always a sucker for mockumentary style, whether it be “Parks and Recreation” or “The Office,” so the feeling of a camera crew actually filming these guys was fun to see worked into the actual story of their lives. Really, this was a solid piece of entertainment, with some good jokes and a fun set of characters to watch. If it actually had a tangible narrative that looked to find an endgame, than it would’ve granted this feature a higher score than I have given it. I wouldn’t say that I was disappointed with this release, because I got what I asked for, however I didn’t expect it to lose steam once the second half was fastly approaching. If you are a fan of Jermaine Clement, or the style of “The Flight of the Concords,” then you would surely enjoy this little feature. FINAL SCORE: 86%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: