What We Do in the Shadows | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

What We Do in the Shadows

New Zealand filmmakers (and funnymen) re-invigorate the vampire comedy

Being a vampire isn't all velvet smoking jackets and tearing the necks out of virgins. As revealed in Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi's new mockumentary, What We Do in the Shadows, life for a group of vampires sharing a flat in Wellington, New Zealand, is a never-ending series of irritating complications and petty hassles.

The chore wheel is ignored. A familiar is getting uppity. Towels weren't put down before a kill and now the couch is ruined. Victims won't look up from their laptops and submit to vampire hypnotizing. Getting dressed for clubbing is hard enough with centuries-old clothing. ("Some of our clothes are from victims. You might bite someone and then, you think, ‘Oooh, those are some nice pants!'") Looking good — or "dead but delicious" — is even harder when mirrors don't reflect.

It's reasonable to assume that countless earlier vampire spoofs have drained all the humor, but Shadows proves that wrong. It's as dry and deadpan as you'd hope, from the two funny men you might know from Flight of the Conchords or Eagle vs. Shark.

The film's strength is celebrating the mundane, and not getting twisted in baroque comic plotting. In a new development, the older vampires befriend Nick, a newbie, who, in turn, teaches them about Google, and Stu, a decent human everybody promises not to bite. There are some werewolves and a bit of bother from the deep past to sort out, but mostly Shadows wants to let us know: Vampires are people, too. They love, hurt, dance and don't tidy up properly.

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