Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What We Do in the Shadows

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Normally I can't stand vampires...leave it to Jemaine Clement and his buddies to make them entertaining!

What We Do in the Shadows – 5 out of 5

This was one of those films that, when I saw the trailer, I was completely sold and really wanted to see it.  It came to theaters near me but, for reasons that involve money and having to head into space to stop the sun from burning out (you’re welcome, by the way), I wasn’t able to see it.  Finally during this last weekend, I was able to check out the DVD and, I have to say, What We Do in the Shadows is absolutely fantastic!

Let's get off to a bloody start!

Inception...vampire style!
In this mockumentary, vampires are real and live among us.  Months before the undead are going to hold a masquerade ball, a camera crew is granted protection to film and follow a group of vamps sharing a flat in Wellington.  There’s Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), Viago (Taika Waititi), a former Nazi vampire named Deacon (Jonny Brugh) and the much older and more ferocious Petyr (Ben Fransham).  The documentary crew follows them as they venture out at night for fun and victims and watches the drama unfold as they attempt to share a home.  Along the way, Petyr turns a young man named Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) and this new vampire creates a riff in the group as he is reckless and tells everyone he meets he’s a vampire (which puts the group in danger).  However, he also ends up introducing the group to his human friend Stu (Stu Rutherford) and he quickly becomes a good friend of the group…and then instantly gets them in trouble when they bring him along to the infamous undead masquerade ball.

If you don't love Stu in this film then you have no soul!

I’m a big fan of Jemaine Clement and his work with Bret McKenzie in Flight of the Conchords and his solo work so seeing that he co-wrote and co-directed it with Taika Waititi instantly filled me with confidence for a quality product but an overall excitement to watch it as well.  My expectations were high for this film and, I have to say, they were met and exceeded.  This film is flat out hysterical!

Jemaine Clement is too damn talented!

I could watch more adventures of this crew.
The premise is simple and a prime breeding ground for some great comedy.  It would have been easy for the premise to get screwed up, however, because the genre of mockumentaries is a hard craft to create.  A lot of people think you just have someone hold the camera and then you improvise away (you see it all the time on YouTube).  The problem with that is improvisation is a very difficult thing.  In cases like What We Do in the Shadows, you have to be immersed in the character and understand that editing still has to exist and that longer doesn’t necessarily mean better.  WWDitS has that perfect balance of knowing how to land jokes (whether they were scripted or improvised).  Nothing in this film feels like filler or like it is just bidding time to build to the next joke.  Everything feels like it belongs and everything works in being hilarious.  Sequences are edited perfectly to give the feel of not only an authentic documentary but edited in a way to highlight the funniest parts of what you are seeing so there is absolutely no lag time between gags.  From beginning to end, the film is filled with amusement and really clever bits that ask the question of “What if vampires are real and how will they interact in our modern society in a real but hilariously off-kilter way?”


Another thing that makes this film so funny and work so well is the performances are fantastic.  There isn’t a player in this movie that isn’t absolutely perfect in their role.  Additionally, each role is written incredibly well.  Each vampire has their own unique history and their own unique personality.  This makes the characters dynamic, interesting and makes them all capable of butting heads and creating hysterical drama that results in ridiculously fun bits.

Vlad Cat!

Finally, the last thing that made the film work so well was the sense of authenticity it had.  Not only does the camera work look more like an actual documentary and less than a “Let’s shake the camera a whole hell of a lot” “found footage” film but the confessional sequences and the way the cast are capable of making it believable when they both acknowledge the camera and act like it is not there and try to deal with their problems looks real and helps create a suspension of disbelief.  It helped me submerge myself in the action and made for a more entertaining experience.  Additionally, the sets (like the flat the vamps live in) and the unique costume design and outfits that the crew is wearing were fantastic and helped sell the goofball reality of vampires living among us.

No caption necessary for this pic.

There wasn’t anything lacking in What We Do in theShadows.  The entire product was extremely funny, crafted excellently with its sets and costumes and the performances are beyond excellent.  This is just one of those perfectly made comedies that offers up a lot of replay value and is a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

The satisfied look a someone who just watched What We Do in the Shadows.

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