What We Do In The Shadows
Directed by Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Starring: Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Jemaine Clement, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer
In theaters Friday 2/20 (exclusively at the Kendall Square Cinema)
I don’t generally go out of my way to see comedy flicks, but having grown up through an age of reality television and teenage vampire romances, I couldn’t resist. You know a movie is going to be interesting when “hipster vampire” appears in the description. But fear not: “Each crew member wore a crucifix and was granted protection by the subjects of the film,” so no humans were harmed in the making of this documentary, well, except for each course of dinner guests.
What We Do In The Shadows is a mockumentary set in Wellington, New Zealand. A documentary crew captures the daily lives (and antics) of vampires living in an apartment together as they gear up for an annual supernatural ball. The effects are cheesy, but that only adds to the sketch comedy nature of each scene. There is no clear plotline, but what drives the movie is the excellent chemistry between the vampire flatmates: Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), Vlad (Jemaine Clement), Petyr (Ben Fransham), and later, Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) and their human friend Stu (Stuart Rutherford). Viago and Vlad chide Deacon for having neglected his dishwashing duties for five years and Petyr for not clearing away the skeletons of his victims. Apparently typical flatmate issues arise even among vampires. Petyr is over 8,000 years old, so he prefers to stay at home while the rest of the crew explores Wellington’s nightlife. This is difficult of course because vampires cannot enter a building unless they are invited, and since they tend to wear 18th-century attire, bouncers often turn them away.
What We Do In The Shadows is a clear statement about the current vampire media landscape — it is completely absurd. According to the Kickstarter project page, the directors want to set the record straight for vampires: in a modern world, a vampire’s life is not a teenage fantasy romance. They would have a hard time integrating into society, and for them, there is no happy ending. The flatmates obviously struggle to keep up with the times: they dress in outdated clothing and express disbelief when Stu introduces them to cellphones, Google, and eBay (where they can do their dark bidding).
As I’ve mentioned previously in this column, finding funding for indie films is hard. In my interview with John Lyons Murphy (producer of Broken Kingdom and Kingdom Come), he mentioned the potential of crowdfunding in the indie film industry. This is certainly apparent in the production of What We Do In The Shadows as the film was crowdfunded on Kickstarter — the proposal enticing the masses to contribute nearly $50,000 more than their goal of $400,000. Clement wrote that they wanted to release the film “by [themselves], without a studio distributor, so that [they could] share [their] film with you, the audience, directly.” This sense of personal connection between artist and audience is what makes viewing an indie production a more sincere experience than your typical studio movie.