“… one of the funniest movies from the past couple of years.”
What We Do in the Shadows is a movie that kind of came out of nowhere for a lot of people when it was released in 2014. Made by a couple of New Zealand comedians/filmmakers Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, most people didn’t know what to expect until that first trailer dropped and everyone fell in love with the concept. What We Do in the Shadows is a mockumentary film that follows a group of vampires who are roommates, each of which from a different period of history. The entire movie essentially follows this group as they try to make it in a modern world, while simultaneously lampooning a lot of common vampire tropes that we have grown accustomed to over the years.
The best part about What We Do in the Shadows is hands down the comedy. This movie is so fucking hilarious that I remember seeing it in theatres and laughing almost non-stop from start to finish; and I experienced the same thing yesterday when I watched it again. Now to break down comedy and try and critique it or explain it kills any form of a joke that may or may not have existed in the first place, so I really kind of have to leave it at that. I know that some people won’t be a fan of the comedy present in What We Do in the Shadows because it can get a little silly, but I think that everyone who is familiar with the horror genre will get a kick out of it. One of the best parts of the comedy in What We Do in the Shadows is the way that the film took on the vampire tropes that have been present for years, without being dumb. I’ve seen my fair share of parody films and a lot of them often reduce themselves to jokes that kids would come up with on the playground. What We Do in the Shadows took the idea of vampires and made fun of it, while also having respect for it. For instance, it never really attacked anything about vampires in general, instead making its characters the butt of the jokes. It also allowed for a lot of actual vampire lore to be used because of the decision to include vampires from all different eras in the film. This not only allowed the film to cast a wide net so-to-speak, but also allowed for more comedy to occur between characters (difference of opinions/methods, etc.). But you can also see that a lot of respect was payed to the idea of vampires with things like the costume and set design, both of which were immaculate. Once again this idea of different eras comes into play because each of the characters has a different wardrobe that they’ve no doubt amassed throughout the years of their lives, but they also have very different senses of style which is funny in itself. And the set design may seem like nothing special, but having a dilapidated mansion that once again is in-line with what we know about vampires in an otherwise urban setting was once again a joke in itself; and being able to look at the detail that went into the decoration showed so much about each character.
But it’s not all jokes in What We Do in the Shadows because there is also a little taste of horror here and there; and this blend was handled spectacularly. It’s nothing overt, but they do manage to make it clear that although we are laughing at them, vampires are still fucking terrifying. And what brings this all together are the performances in the film which are very funny and very believable (well, as much as they can be anyway). Everybody involved did such a good job with their performances, and that is a large part of what makes this movie so great to me. And it’s not even just the vampires, but the werewolf pack was also phenomenally acted. The interactions that these groups had, as well as the introduction of other groups really made the world of What We Do in the Shadows feel more real. And that is another reason why the mockumentary style worked so well for this film. It allowed for this bizarre scenario to be grounded in reality, which is a joke in itself. The idea that there are vampires walking around New Zealand with a documentary film crew is fucking hilarious, and that just goes to show how layered the comedy is in What We Do in the Shadows.
Overall What We Do in the Shadows is one of the funniest movies from the past couple of years. The way that it blends horror and comedy is masterful, and there is so much care put into giving vampires the respect that they deserve. If you haven’t seen What We Do in the Shadows, definitely give it a watch; it’s worth it.
I give What We Do in the Shadows an A