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

Viago has similar struggles to all of us. He misses the love of his life and has had a difficult time moving on. He wishes his roommates would do their dishes and other agreed-upon household chores. He sometimes has a hard time getting a bite to eat. He’s just trying to find his way in the world, one night at a time.

Oh yes and he and his roommates are centuries-old vampires.

Thanks to Kelli for recommending this delightful movie to me! It was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed watching it. It’s perfect viewing as Halloween approaches.

What We Do in the Shadows is a hilarious horror comedy in the vein of Shaun of the Dead, with the setting in Wellington, New Zealand, instead of London and the focus on vampires rather than zombies. It’s also like Near Dark meets Withnail and I, courtesy of the filmmakers of Spinal Tap.

Fussy dandy Viago’s ragtag crew of roomies includes the Dracula-esque Vlad the Poker, the lazy wastrel Deacon, and ancient vampire Petyr (who is so creepy even the other vampires find him unsettling). Throughout the film, they are followed around by a crew of documentary filmmakers in the lead-up to the annual undead masquerade.

Vampire hijinks ensue as they deal with inexperienced new vampires, demanding familiars, uncooperative meals, sassy werewolf rivals, dangerous vampire hunters, bewildering modern technology, and interpersonal drama amongst the roommates. (Deacon really needs to pitch in and do more around the house. Granted, Petyr does, too, but nobody has the nerve to push the issue with him, so they’d rather take it out on Deacon.)

Of course, the main thing about any comedy is whether or not it is funny, to which the movie definitely is. But there is something weirdly relatable about the all-too-human struggles our fanged friends in the movie have. I’ve always enjoyed vampire stories that veer away from the glamour often associated with the genre and instead dwell on the reality of a vampire. Being a vampire would actually be a rather lonely, disorienting experience, and the film does a wonderful job of mining the inherent absurdity of it.

I also really enjoyed the New Zealand setting. It’s not the setting one would automatically guess for a horror comedy, but it worked really well. The New Zealand cast is uniformly excellent, though I must confess I was only familiar with Jermaine Clement (of Flight of the Conchords fame) as Vlad and Taika Waititi (of Jojo Rabbit fame) as Viago.

This black comedy is not for the squeamish, but if you love offbeat horror and/or clever but silly comedies, it’s a must-see! And if you want to continue the vampire antics, you can also check out seasons 1 and 2 of the TV show What We Do in the Shadows, which is the same mockumentary-following-vampires premise but transferred to a new crew of vampires, this time residing in Staten Island, New York. It stars Matt Berry (The IT Crowd), and season 3 is currently airing on FX now, so it’s the perfect time to catch up!

Are you a What We Do in the Shadows fan? What’s your favorite horror comedy? What are you watching for Halloween? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of these items or to place them on hold.

Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)”

  1. This is the third time I’ve come across this recommendation in the same number of days, so I guess it’s a sign. 🙂 Thank you for the review – looking forward to watching as part of my lead-up to Halloween.

    Liked by 1 person

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