October is Halloween movie month! Having been completely deprived of any kind of Halloween experience growing up, I now spend 31 days celebrating with film and TV. I like to shoot for a mix of old and new, horror and comedy, from the slightly spooky to the totally terrifying to the just plain weird. Each day of October I’ll reviewing one of these ventures in the realm of the creepy and supernatural. Some will be high quality cinema and some will require large amounts of alcohol to survive. Stock up on seasonal beer and Fireball-apple jello shots and join me! A warning, though – unless the review is of a very recent release, HERE BE SPOILERS.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
Starring: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Johnny Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer
Synopsis: Set up in mockumentary style, What We Do in the Shadows follows four vampires (Viago, Vlad, Deacon, and Petyr) who are flatmates in a New Zealand suburb. The first part of the film largely shows their daily lives and routines and explains their histories. The plot gets going when one of the vampires, Deacon, enlists his human servant, Jackie, to procure some victims for them. One of the victims, her ex-boyfriend, Nick, ends up being turned into a vampire instead of simply being drained of blood. He begins to hang around with them, and is kind of a drag. He often brings his still-human friend, Stu. At first the other vampires want to eat to Stu, but eventually they become friends with him and he helps them learn how to use modern technology. Unfortunately, Nick’s loose lips about his vampire secret attract the attention of a vampire hunter, who follows him to the house and kills Petyr, the oldest of them. Nick is shunned from the group and takes Stu with him. After several months, they all reunite at the undead masquerade ball. They also discover the ball is being hosted by Vlad’s ex, “The Beast” and that Jackie has gotten Nick to finally turn her into a vampire. A fight breaks out over the fact that Nick brought Stu, as pretty much everyone there wants to eat him. The group escape the ball but run into a pack of werewolves. It’s a full moon, so the werewolves attack and Stu is turned into a werewolf. In the end, Nick makes up with the other vampires and they decide they like Stu enough to still hang out with him. They even agree to be friends with the other werewolves. Viago, using the internet with Stu’s help, reunites with his lost love (who is 90 years old now) and turns her into a vampire, Vlad gets back together with The Beast, and everyone is generally happy with how things have turned out.
What We Do in the Shadows is a pitch perfect, Christopher Guest-style mockumentary. Made in New Zealand by Taika Waititi and one half of Flight of the Conchords (Jemaine Clement) and using all local actors, it had a tiny budget and an even tinier initial release. Pretty much every scene was almost entirely improvised, with the actors told only the basic structure of the scene they were to be performing. Somehow, these conditions all combine to produce a hilarious, critically-acclaimed vampire satire that has finally managed to get the world-wide distribution it deserves. It’s a movie that sneaks up on you and makes you happy to be caught. Continue reading “What We Do In Shadows – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 19”