Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi’s “What We Do in the Shadows”

wwdA vampire mockumentary about a band of misbehaving bloodsucking roommates? It’s perhaps a winning proposition for a five-minute short, but can it sustain the length of a 90-minute feature? When said mockumentary is written, directed, and starring the creators of HBO’s Flight of the Concords, the answer is a resounding YES.

What We Do in the Shadows follows the mundane and often amazingly gory day-to-day lives of a few clueless but likable creatures of the night. The ghoulish laughs come right off the bat as Viago (Taika Waititi), the mild-mannered 317-year-old master tenant, introduces the audience to his roommates. There’s Vlaislav the Poker (Jermaine Clement), an 862-year-old vamp obsessed with his longtime rivalry with a mysterious figure known as “The Beast”; Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), the 183-year-old “young bad boy of the group”; and, best of all, Petyr (Ben Fransham) a legitimately terrifying 8,000-year-old vampire who is a dead ringer for Nosferatu‘s Count Orlock.

The scrappy plot mostly follows the gang’s slow acceptance of a new member to the group (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), but the film’s documentary style mostly serves to deliver tons of hilarious supernatural comedy pieces, ranging from high-flying “bat fights” to more grounded verbal sparring between the ancient undead friends. By the time a douchey werewolf frat gets involved in the action, What We Do in the Shadows easily becomes the most entertaining film of 2015 so far.

What We Do in the Shadows opens Friday, February 20th at the Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco and at Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley.


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