Taika Watiti’s What We Do In The Shadows: A Review by Nate Hill 

I don’t remember laughing as hard at a film in years as I did at What We Do In The Shadows the other night. It’s pure comedic bliss from front to back, and makes the often tedious chore of making an audience laugh seem effortless. It’s part horror comedy, part mockumentary with a dash of buddy camaraderie and and depth of wit and character all it’s own, thanks to New Zealand filmmaker Taika Watiti, who is fast becoming one of my favorite new voices in the independent field. A master at finding the humour in little moments and dry subtlety, his cameras spend a couple hours documenting pratfalls, squabbles and zany encounters wirh quartet of vampires living in Wellington, New Zealand, each one simultaneously a different caricature of bloodsuckers from previous lore, as well as a completely unique, hilarious individual. Jermaine Clement is the closest thing you’ll find to a household name amongst the cast as Vladislav, a Dracula esque, baroque vamp. Jonny Brugh is Viago, the musically inclined, Ann Rice incarnation, and Ben Fransham, plays Peter, a spooky eight thousand year old Nosferatu clone. It’s Watiti himself who steals the show though, as Deacon, a dandy of a Germanic royal who gets all the best lines and relishes them with adorable deadpan delivery every chance he gets. The film comes nowhere near the classification of horror, and in fact these four resemble a bumbling, lovable frat house, their vampiric nature treated lightly as they cavort about their everyday life like rambunctious nocturnal teddy bears. They navigate household chores, nightlife, inter species relations (there’s a few priceless encounters with a rival pack of werewolves), pesky humans, and have a ball the whole time through. What makes the film so special is the goldmine of comic skill and talent that both director and cast have tapped into. The relationships are unforced, full of idiosyncratic nonsense and always feel utterly organic. For a group of undead fellows, they truly are the life of the party. The documentary style never feels intrusive or irritating, seamlessly taking refuge behind the forceful and side splitting antics which take center stage for the entire film. Comedy is the hardest genre to produce fruitful results in, with horror a close second. What it takes to make you laugh can often be a rare gift, wielded by few and far between, those writers, directors and actors who have that elusive midas touch on our funnybones, combining just the right elements of script, improv and intuition to  get us laughing ourselves silly. This one achieves that and then some. 

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