What We Do In The Shadows

TIFF 2014: What We Do in the Shadows Review

What We Do In The Shadows
Midnight Madness

It’s been a while since Christopher Guest made one of his patented mockumentaries about fringe figures fumbling through fringe culture, so there’s plenty of room for someone to fill the gap. Given that Guest and his gang never would have possibly gotten around to pointing their lens at vampires, thank god it was Taika Waititi and Flight of The Conchords’ Jemaine Clement who filled in the gap. The duo previously teamed up on Eagle Vs Shark, which was charmingly forgettable. This time they’ve fully joined forces as co-writers/co-directors/co-stars and the results are completely hysterical.

Along with Jonathan Brugh, Waititi and Clement play a trio of housemates who bicker about doing dishes, make awkward stabs at social lives, and suck down buckets of blood. They’ve got a Nosferatu-style friend/pet in the basement, but otherwise lead fairly boring lives. It’s the way that Waititi/Clement use the mock doc style to make the supernatural seem mundane that gives the film most of it’s humor. You could even call it a one-joke movie, were you feeling unkind. The thing is when the joke is this good, you don’t need much more.

What We Do In The Shadows

The episodic narrative spills out in a number of ways dealing with century-strong love affairs, feuds with werewolves (led by the endlessly hilarious Rhys Darby), and a dance at the local bowling ally. It doesn’t add up to much, but is just enough structure to carry 86 minutes without wearing out the idea. The performances are all strong and unexpectedly Waititi/Clement deliver a number of fantastic effects sequences involving blood geysers, heavy make-up, pyrotechnics, gravity-defying rotating sets, and impressive CGI that are undeniably impressive and always serve the comedy. The team behind What We Do In The Shadows might not have strived for more than pure laughs, but when you crank out this many that work that’s more than enough ambition. The fact that they did it with seemingly played out vampires only makes it more impressive. It already feels like a cult film and likely will be once enough people see it to qualify as a cult. (Phil Brown)


Friday, September 12, 11:59pm, Ryerson
Saturday, September 13, 9:30pm, Scotiabank 1
Sunday, September 14, 2:45pm, Scotiabank 3

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Thanks to SPiN TORONTO for sponsoring our TIFF 2014 coverage.

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