Movie Review - What We Do in the Shadows

'What We Do in the Shadows' is a bloody mess.
I had the same problem with this movie as I did Man Bites Dog. It's a mockumentary that follows a cold-blooded killer or in this case, four cold-blooded killers, and we're supposed to laugh and enjoy the murders of innocent people. We're supposed to be on the side of the cold-blooded killers. It's not a satire like Four Lions, which was laughing at terrorists, even though they're the protagonists. This movie wants us to laugh with the terrorists. It wants us to delight in their horrendous acts. At least, with Man Bites Dog, it ends with the protagonist's demise. Here, this movie celebrates the protagonists at the end. What saves it from being god-awful is the fact that the protagonists are vampires, so it's all inherently ridiculous, but still rather disturbing and not funny.

Honestly, I laughed more in Interview with the Vampire than I did here. I thought Tom Cruise and Antonio Banderas were funnier in that film than the two main vampires here. We saw horrible things they did, but it was always with the gaze that they were not cool, or they weren't people for whom we should root. We were either held hostage or dragged along. This movie wants us to follow like puppy dogs after these characters, and I found it difficult to abide by that.

Written and directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, it also stars Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi as Vladislav and Viago respectively, two vampires living in Wellington, New Zealand. They live with two other vampires. One of which is a very, very, old vampire named Petyr, played by Ben Fransham. Peytr has a knack of turning people into vampires.

We go through their day-to-day or rather night-to-night activities. We see how they live and there are jokes that are on the level of The Flintstones and The Jetsons. We also follow how they collect and kill people with the spilling of tons of blood. In the process, we get really decent special visual effects of the vampires flying or transforming into bats.

Things change when a fifth vampire is added to their household. Cori Gonzalez-Macuer co-stars as Nick, the fifth vampire and newest vampire who causes trouble for Vladislav and Viago. He's a bit of an idiot and becomes a bit braggadocious.

The heart of the film is supposed to be their friendship with a human named Stu, played by Stu Rutherford. He's an IT technician and is a bit quiet and shy. His life is threatened multiple times by others who aren't Vladislav, Viago and their roommates. How the vampires in question react to Stu's endangerment and how they defend him are meant to endear us, but it's not enough.

A better movie that does similar things to this is Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. A better TV series that's about vampires and other supernatural beings living together in a comedic sense is the British series Being Human, starring Aidan Turner and Russell Tovey who is a far better actor than the entire cast here.

One Star out of Five.
Rated R for bloody violent content, some sexual material and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 25 mins.


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