Rental Pick: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

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I had been wanting to see this movie for ages but for some reason I never saw its theatrical release in my neck of the woods. Even the synopsis and the trailer had me in stitches. Well, the movie itself more than lived up to the hype, it’s so well worth the wait! In fact, the reason this review kept getting delayed is because I kept getting distracted by watching the clips of this on Youtube and they made me laugh every single time.

The idea of a mockumentary about vampires living in modern society is so brilliant and makes for a perfect comedy material, so I’m surprised nobody has made it before. Well I’m glad that these New Zealand comedians did as I can’t imagine anyone else portraying these immortal vampires now. The only person I recognize is Jemaine Clement, one of the Flight of the Conchords comedy band, and he plays one of the four flatmates living in Wellington, NZ. In the opening sequence, we learn that the vampire flatmates have invited a documentary filmmaker to chronicle their lives, hence the title, and they’ve been given some kind of protection so that they won’t become victims like most humans invited into their homes. “Some interviews with some vampires” is the movie’s tagline, an obvious reference to a popular 90s vampire drama based on Anne Rice’s books.
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It’s so much fun to spend two hours with the trio, Vladislav (Clement), Viago (Taika Waititi), and Deacon (Jonathan Brugh). There’s also Petyr (Ben Fransham), an 8000 years old Nosferatu-lookalike who lives in the basement instead of upstairs with the other three. Viago is like the mom in the family, he’s trying to keep the flat as organized and neat as possible, insisting that his flatmates line the floor and walls with newspapers before they feast on their victims. Of course it’s not always easy, one scene showed Viago accidentally biting the main artery of his victim, causing blood to spurt and splatter all over the room and making a huge mess. This is just one of those hysterical dilemmas these immortal creatures have to deal with living in modern society. All the daily stuff we take for granted, such as being able to see our reflection in the mirror when we get dressed, enjoying the sunlight, etc. are problematic for these vampires and the movie explore those in such a hysterical way.

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I thought that the movie is going to consist mostly of random scenes of these vampires doing daily human chores and other vampiric shenanigans, which would’ve been okay for me considering how hilarious these actors are. But there’s actually a decent plot here, starting with Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), a human lured to become their food who ended up being turned into a vampire. Things start go awry when Nick carelessly break every vampire rules and walk around announcing his new identity. But the most hilarious part is when he starts inviting his human friend Stu (Stuart Rutherford) to hang out with his vampire mates. All the scenes involving Stu is a hoot, especially when he teaches them technology and social media, much to the delight of Viago and the gang. It’s even funnier as he’s got this deadpan expression throughout.

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This movie has become one of my favorite comedies of all time. Right up there with The Gods Must Be Crazy, Top Secret! and Hot Fuzz. Comedies are so subjective I guess so what some people find funny might not be the case for others. For me, I love great writing and fun characters on top of the slapstick stuff, nothing too crude nor vulgar. What We Do in the Shadows delivers on that front, such a breath of fresh air compared to a lot of raunchy-but-unfunny Hollywood comedies of late. Props to Clement and Waititi who collaborated as writers/directors, as well as the terrific cast that bring this comedy to life. There are just sooo many memorable scenes and it’s so darn quotable.

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“We’re Werewolves, not Swearwolves.”

“Vampires don’t do dishes.”

“Yeah some of our clothes are from victims. You might bite someone and then, you think, ‘Oooh, those are some nice pants!’.”

“I go for a look I call dead but delicious.”

Seriously, there are hundreds of funny one liners and it’s funnier when you see them in context. The script is so zany and sharp-witted, and the writers obviously knew enough about the whole vampire mythology and stereotypes to turn them on its head. I’ve gotten the Blu-ray and I know it’ll get a ton of play in my house. Even the deleted scenes are a hoot! I don’t normally care for sequels but I sincerely hope Clement and Waititi would work on a sequel for this, as I can watch these characters bicker with each other for hours on end. I’d think this idea would make for a great TV series too, so hopefully that would happen given how well-received this movie has been.
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Have you seen What We Do In The Shadows? Well, what did YOU think?

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39 thoughts on “Rental Pick: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

  1. Hi Ruth! Sorry I haven’t been by in ages, but at least I get to give you more comment spam. 😀

    I still haven’t seen WWDITS, though it’s on my watchlist. Hopefully, I’ll love it as much as you did.

    1. Hello Josh! THANKS for the massive comment *spam*, always appreciate those 😀

      OMG you should see this soon, it’s hysterical! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  2. It makes me very happy when I see that people I follow have watched this! It’s one of those films that people seem to be evangelical about simply because it didn’t get a huge release and really deserves to be seen by a lot, so I’m glad to see you spreading the word. It’s a simple premise but the jokes are so good it didn’t feel like it ran out of steam to me. My favourite comedy last year by a mile.

    1. Hi Stu! I had been talking about this movie since I saw it over a month ago. It’s such a travesty that it didn’t get a wide release, whilst so many abominable *comedies* get wide release. But eh, who says life is fair? I absolutely love this movie and have been telling everyone to go see it!

  3. Such a funny movie which I just bought to give to some friends of mine who I know wool also enjoy it. The werewolves were some of my favorite bits.

    1. Glad you think so too Nostra! The werewolves bits are hilarious but I really enjoy all the domestic scenes of these vampires and all those bickering.

    1. Hi Mikey! Yeah I think even his BFF Nick is baffled why everyone loves Stu but he’s so unassuming and sweet maybe it’s refreshing to these ancient creatures.

    1. Yes I recognized Darby from some Flight of the Concords episodes. This seems like a family project in a way as the cast have worked w/ each other before.

    1. I reckon you’ll love it Ted. I look forward to seeing what you think of it! As Ruth accurately said, comedies are so subjective but I haven’t read a review yet around the blogosphere from someone who didn’t like it

  4. Yep, yep, yep, yep! Agree 100%. I can’t quite laughing at this thing. So many goofy lines will pop into my head and suddenly I’m laughing again. This one is hard to beat.

    1. Yay! Glad we’re in agreement on this one Keith! It took me so long to finish this review as I kept getting distracted by all the clips on youtube! 😀

  5. Great write up Ruth! Some great observations, as usual 🙂

    I recommend this to anyone who will listen, as it had me in tears, my stomach hurting, when I saw it last year. In fact the theatre was packed both times I saw it and everyone was howling!! If anything we were missing jokes due to laughing so hard.

    You are right, it is somewhat surprising that a similar satire like this hadn’t been done before this, especially given the overwhelming amount of zombie/vampire focused shows and movies. But this movie really does it perfectly. New Zealanders have a great sense of humour. And funny accents 😛

    And you are right how the inclusion of an actual plot (which in itself is a funny joke in my eyes) strengthened the movie, and made it even more memorable.

    How great was the camp vampire, the one who lead the cameras around??? He made me laugh the most, his eye movements alone made me smile. He was my favourite. Apart from Stu!

    And then the was “We’re Wearwolves, not Swear-wolves!!”
    Haha!! Classic line, I’ll never forget that. I really need to get this on BR as I haven’t seen it since I saw it at the cinemas last year. I think this really has almost infinite replay value, I loved it even more the second time around.

    Sorry for the long winded post, I’m just glad you loved this movie as much as I did!! 🙂

    1. Hey Jordan! Long comments are always welcome 😀

      I was in stitches the whole time I watched it too, and every time I saw the clips on youtube I’m still laughing hard every time. Man you’re lucky you saw this on the big screen, it never came to the theaters here. But then again I might be snorting up a storm so best watch this at home than embarrassing myself, ahah.

      I love NZ/Aussie and British sense of humor. I really think they can be funny without resorting to silly gags, bathroom humor or sexually crude stuff that you see in sooo many American *comedies.* I can handle some of ’em but for the most part I just avoid them.

      “We’re Wearwolves, not Swear-wolves!!” is destined to be a classic, I mean it’s just hilarious even just thinking about that scene!! Rhys Darby from Flight of the Concords is just as funny as Clement & the others. I really need to start watching more episodes of that as I like their brand of humor.

      1. Yeah this movie like you said is so quotable. And i’m with you, I prefer british/NZ/Aussie humour too, much more mature I think. Most American comedies don’t really go down well down under. Probably because like you said, it is mostly pottie humour which just isn’t funny and for the most part is just immature.

        I am interested to see if Trainwreck is any good though. I have my doubts but I wanna give it a chance

  6. I’m a fan of this movie as well, very amusing in places, and quite an original concept. I read that more than 120 hours of footage was shot, most of which were improvisations from the leads, so there’s certainly potential for a sequel or a TV-series.
    Nice quotes you mentioned. A couple more: “You will not eat the camera guys, oh….maybe one camera guy” ”Do you know of a night dentist? I have this problem here” 🙂

    1. Hi Chris! Oh I didn’t know they shot THAT much footage! I know there are tons of Deleted Scenes in the Bluray, but yeah that’ll be great if they make a series or even miniseries of it. I could watch these guys do the most mundane things as they’re so naturally funny!

      Somehow I didn’t catch the ”Do you know of a night dentist? I have this problem here” quote, I have to go back and rewatch more now 😀

  7. Love this movie, loved loved it, and knew I would because I love all his other work. It actually came to a cineplex for a short while here back in March, and I was surprised and very glad to find it there.
    You’re right – even the series of vignettes would have been a delight because they’re just so fun to watch!!!

    1. Wahoo!!! Glad to hear everyone who’s seen this LOVE this movie. I just find it so refreshing and genuinely hilarious. I mean just from the moment Viago is trying to shut off his alarm clock had me in stitches. And it just gets better from there!

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  15. Oh, I love this movie! Jemaine’s face on the cat always cracks me up. The “I am doing my dark bidding.” “What are you bidding on?” “I am bidding on a table” part always gets me too. 😀

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