By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
in Victoria, BC (Update)
Feb 27 – Mar 5th
The Odeon Theatre
780 Yates Street
Modern life is very rough for the ancient vampire. In Wellington, New Zealand, just What We Do in the Shadows presents a comical look into what life is truly like for these creatures of the night in a more humanist kind of way. They allowed a small crew of cameramen to follow them around to record their antics and to see them acknowledged time to time gives this movie an air of authenticity that can be appreciated. When the film is presented as a mockumentary, the laughs are well earned, and some horror lore enthusiasts will recognize the world that these creatures, along with the werewolves and zombies, belong in.
Role Playing Games publisher White Wolf created a World of Darkness that some films, especially the Underworld movies, have successfully brought to the cinema. To see its influence spread to east of Australia certainly shows that this love for a unified world is certainly here to stay. Vampire: The Masquerade is very influential to this film’s overall feel and to see the fearsome foursome — Viago the Toreador (Taika Waititi), Vladislav the Bohemian (Jemaine Clement), Deacon the Romantic (Jonathan Brugh), and Petyr the Nosferatu (Ben Fransham) — deal with regular mortal issues makes for some great comedy. It’s almost like watching an episode of the 60’s classic Bewitched. In this movie’s case, it feels more like Addams Family material.
The unique humour that’s found in this film will certainly delight genre fans looking for something unique. Vampires looking for the right victim is tough and that leads to some interesting twists. That includes a quick hint of one vampire working for the Nazis in the past (a web-series of these past antics must be made!). They certainly are not musicians either. A bit of the Kiwi sound is heard in this film’s soundtrack and that music helps gives this film character.
Although the mundane is the spotlight here, especially in showing how they entertain themselves, the screenplay by Taika Waititi (Boy) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) does have plenty of observational comedic moments to keep the pace bright. Although the later acts are not as strong as the opening one, there’s some great moments to behold when they are seen in conflict with themselves and other nightmare species who try to take a bite out of this movie.
The human supporting roles are the ones that truly shine. One such character is Jackie (Jackie Van Beek), this vampire clan’s servant, who helps them find new blood. Even the two police officers get some moments to yuk it up as they are blissfully ignorant of the darker world that’s around them. In what they see, they discount as just another day as there’s very little to bemoan about.
Eventually, a bit of a plot develops when they get ready for a formal masquerade ball. Some old friends are encountered, and when the action heats up, so do tempers. A more traditional plot emerges to help build a climatic ending. And in what’s found here is that life can go on. Being immortal is not necessarily a curse.
4 Stars out of 5
To find other local screenings, please visit this movie’s website here.