Getting horror comedy right is a notoriously tricky business but this vampire mockumentary from the people who brought us Flight Of The Conchords and Eagle Vs Shark is an absolutely hilarious success.
A group of four ancient European vampires sharing a house in Wellington has agreed to let a documentary crew film what they get up to. Viago (Taika Waititi) is an 18th century dandy with a broken heart, Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) is a depraved former warlord on the wane, Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) is a selfish self-proclaimed bad boy, and Petyr (Ben Fransham) is so old he’s turned into the vampire from Salem’s Lot.
When Petyr turns local lad Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), the group suddenly find themselves enjoying modern life in a way they haven’t for centuries. But will Nick’s casual attitude to vampirism put them in danger?
Fans of Clement and Waititi’s previous work know the kind of humour to expect: bone-dry, beautifully observed and deeply silly. There’s a brilliantly funny sequence in which the three speaking vamps furiously debate the washing up rota, the importance of virgin blood is floridly discussed, while a dinner party sequence in which potential victims are confronted with re-enacted Lost Boys sequences is beautifully done.
The mockumentary technique allows Clement and Waititi to fill their comedy with plenty of everyday detail and created a realistic grounded world for their vamps to live in. Deacon’s familiar Jackie (Jackie Van Beek) is getting frustrated with doing the vampires’ daytime chores without reward, the group instantly takes to Nick’s impossibly unshakeable, rosy-cheeked friend Stu, and it’s best to put some newspaper down before you eat someone in the house.
It’s also this approach that allows the filmmakers to mine the comic gold that comes from humanising their characters and all the cast are fantastic. Clement in particular is clearly having a brilliant time, as it soon becomes apparent that the lascivious Vlad’s best years are behind him, while Waititi slays with his portrayal of the sweetly heartbroken Viago.
In short, the most important thing to know about What We Do In The Shadows is that it’s laugh-out-loud hilarious and we urge you to see it as soon as possible.