What We Do in the Shadows (4 stars)

What We Do in the Shadows

Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi helm a killer comedy about a vampire flat-share

'When you get three vampires in a flat obviously there’s going to be a lot of tension,' dryly observes 862-year-old Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), who shares a house with 18th Century dandy Viago (Taika Waititi) and self-proclaimed bad boy Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), alongside the less participatory Nosferatu-like Petyr (Ben Fransham).

The New Zealand Documentary Board are granted access to this quartet of bloodsuckers as they are joined by newcomer Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) who really doesn’t fit in. In fact, the others despise his hipster antics and insistence on impressing people with his newfound vampire status, and only tolerate his behaviour because of their fondness for his human friend Stu (Stuart Rutherford).

Long-time collaborators Clement and Waititi (who write and direct as well as star) have come up with an infectiously silly, frequently funny vampire mockumentary which is brought to life by a combination of impressive improvised dialogue, high-spirited performances and a keen knowledge of vampire mythology and motion pictures. In fact it's surprising no-one has ever thought of crossing the dry wit of This is Spinal Tap with the rich vein of the undead before.

The deadpan approach is punctuated by many affectionate nods to the genre. They mock the Twilight franchise by showing the hilarious rivalry between the vampires and a group of werewolves, who roam the city dressed as if they’re in Michael Jackson’s 'Beat It' video.

But the real beauty of What We Do in the Shadows lies in the situational humour, with the jokes basically writing themselves. Whether the vamps are bickering over the washing up, or marvelling at new technology joyful levity abounds. Add to that the impeccable comic timing of Clement and Waititi (the latter turns in an especially endearing performance) and you have the makings of a bloody good treat.

Selected release from Fri 21 Nov.

What We Do in the Shadows - Official Trailer

What We Do in the Shadows

  • 4 stars
  • 2014
  • New Zealand
  • 1h 28min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement
  • Cast: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Rhys Darby, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford
  • UK release: 21 November 2014

Infectiously silly mockumentary about a group of vampires sharing a flat in a Wellington, NZ suburb: Vladislav (Clememt), Viago (Waititi) and Deacon (Brugh) are irritated by hipsterish newcomer Nick (Gonzalez-Macuer). With the vamps bickering over washing up and carrying on a hilarious rivalry with a group of local…