What We do in the Shadows is a mockumentary style comedy from Jemaine Clement, one half of the comedy folk duo Flight of the Conchords. It follows Viago, a foppish, 300 year-old Austrian vampire and his roommates Vladislav (basically Gary Oldman from Coppola’s Dracula, played by Clement), Deacon (a 143 year-old “youngster” and “rebel” who’s more puff than punk), and Petyr (8,000 years old, sleeps in the basement, think Count Orlok/Nosferatu) as they try to live as normal lives as inhumanly possible in Wellington, New Zealand. It’s a dark but goofy comedy in the vein (sorry) of Best In Show, poking fun at vampire clichés and the super-seriousness of their fandom.
The performances are all pretty good, but the stand-out is Taika Waititi’s Viago, a prim, prissy 17th century aristocrat who tries to act as den mother to the other three. His pained politeness and immaculate manners juxtaposed with the very bloody, spurty act of his eating people is adorable. I’ve never seen his other film, Boy, but he gives such a strong, funny performance, and Viago’s mannerisms are so damn specific, that I’m curious to see what else he can do.
The other three housemates are all funny, for the most part, though Deacon’s misanthropy starts to grate after a while and Vladislav can be one-note. Petyr might as well be a decoration, but I think that’s all he’s supposed to be anyways. Hey, he’s 8000 years old, I get he might not have much of a personality, but more could have been done with him, I think. Vladislav does get some killer lines (best one in the movie comes from him), and the impression is pretty dead-on, but again not much else is done with him.
Over all, What We Do in the Shadows is a good Netflix watch at night (with your vice of choice) or a decent rental if you don’t mind a little cheese in your horror-comedies. Though the plot kind of just meanders around until it’s done, it’s entertaining and engaging, more of a grinning throughout comedy than a gut-buster romp.