A terrific comedy of the undead lifestyle in an unlively town, the Funny or Die–produced What We Do in the Shadows adapts the premise of TV’s Surreal Life to the vampire myth.
Of the 60 or so vamps in New Zealand, four get to see a lot of each other. Housemates in a decaying flat, these four—a mute Nosferatu (Ben Fransham); Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), an emo hellion; Vladislaw (Flight of the Conchord‘s Jermaine Clement), a long-haired upholder of the old traditions, with Slavic accent and penetrating stare; and Viago (Taika Waititi)—unveil their problems before a documentary team’s camera.
Permitting the documentary must have been the idea of our shy yet genial host Viago. He has a mincing, polite German accent, like the “Leutonian” diction of John Candy’s Shmenge character. Viago says apologetically, “One of the unfortunate things about being a vampire is that you have to drink blood.” This means a lot of cleanup.
After Viago hypnotizes a victim—who looks more disinterested than really out of it—Viago asks her to lift her feet so he can put newspapers on the floor. In voiceover, he shares with the documentary team, “It’s the last moment of their lives. Why not make it a nice experience?”
Unlike most mockumentaries, What We Do in the Shadows doesn’t have to convince with realism. Directors Waititi and Clement match a universally loved topic with an undertone about life in a very remote—and very boring—city.
An evening out begins with a city bus trip downtown. It coalesces at an all-night Chinese restaurant. It ends with one of these immortals puking behind a dumpster. The human creatures of the night sass these vampires as Goths and weirdoes. The blood-drinkers stand around plaintively outside a nightclub, hoping the bouncers will invite them inside.
‘What We Do in the Shadows’ opens Feb. 27 at Summerfield Cinemas,
551 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa. 707.522.0719.