Shortly after the first weekend that box-office returns came in for “Twilight,” a swarm of studio suits rushed to their BlackBerrys and proceeded to greenlight every vampire-related script they could find buried under the cobwebs. Six years on, we’ve been deluged by more undead movies and TV series that you can shake a crucifix at, and fang fatigue has clearly set in.
This overwrought genre is well past due for parody, and attempting that are Kiwi directors Jemaine Clement (of the HBO comedy series “Flight of the Conchords”) and Taika Waititi. Their film, “What We Do in the Shadows,” has a certain low-budget indie charm, and operates from a very simple premise: a reality TV-style documentary about four flatmates in Wellington, New Zealand, who happen to be vampires. Straight-to-camera confessional moments about their relationships and griping about whose turn it is to do the dishes are intercut with savage bouts of feasting on human blood.
It’s basically “Interview with the Vampire” meets MTV’s “The Real World,” and if this sounds a bit silly, well, it is. The film often feels like a throwaway “Saturday Night Live” sketch padded out to 90 minutes. The special effects of levitating and changing into bats and such are all a bit naff, but amusingly so.
|Rating||out of 5|
|Director||Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi|
|Run Time||86 minutes|
Co-directors Waititi and Clement also star as flatmates Viago and Vlad, the former a prissy cleanliness freak, the latter an old-school vampire of the dungeons-and-orgies breed. Jonathan Brugh appears as vain leather-pants-wearing Deacon, while Ben Fransham is Nosferatu-look-alike Petyr.
While the bunch of them have been undead for centuries, they have problems dealing with the modern world, which worsen when one of their victims, tattooed bloke Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), becomes a vampire himself and moves in, annoying everyone with his drunken indiscretion.
The film’s silver bullet is straight man Stuart Rutherford playing Nick’s friend Stu, an IT professional so meek and unassuming that even the vampires agree not to drink his blood, as he shows them how to use Google and Skype. You can see where this is all going, and rest assured the mandatory vampire selfie gag is not far behind.
“Twilight” comes in for a bit of a roasting as the vampires trash-talk a group of nice-guy werewolves, and fans of vampire movies will catch a multitude of smaller references, though the filmmakers could’ve gone a lot further with this.
The film is on a surer footing when it replicates the sort of navel-gazing babble people spout in direct-to-camera interviews on reality TV, with newly turned vampire Nick going on about how his life has changed: “The way I see it is I’ve got a whole new family. They accept me for what I am.”
“We Live in the Shadows” throws enough jokes at the wall that some of them stick, but it’s so laid-back that it lacks a certain bite.