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Byron Shire
December 4, 2021

What we do in the shadows

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http://youtu.be/Cv568AzZ-i8

You can be as scathing and snooty as you like about vampire movies, but one thing is for certain – they are unlikely to go away any time soon.

Ever since FW Murnau’s definitive Nosferatu (1922), the undead bloodsuckers have been turning up on our screens with nocturnal regularity.

Klaus Kinski, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Colin Farrell, Gary Oldman – they’ve all deliciously worn the mantle (only that drip Robert Pattinson has let the side down).

But for all its medieval terror and (not always) latent sexuality, the oeuvre has carried with it a jokiness that makes it ripe for sending-up – Polanski probably got the ball rolling with The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967). This latest take on the theme, written and directed by New Zealand’s Jemaine Clement (one of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (who made 2010’s wonderful Boy), is a bit like Monty Python meets Christopher Guest, without ever scaling the heights of those two at their best.

In the form of a mocumentary, we are made privy to the world of three house-sharing vampires – Vladislav (Clement), Viago (Waititi) and Deacon (Jonathon Brugh) in the lead up to the annual celebration of their ilk in downtown Wellington.

The script is uneven – some gags just don’t work at all – but, complemented by a terrific support cast, the blokes take to their parts with gusto and imbue them with unexpected charisma.

If it has been done on the cheap that should not be seen as a demerit, for the low budget has contributed significantly to the film’s intended hokiness.

Most importantly, the writers have gleefully satirised the genre without at any point mocking the traditions, which has proved to be a task too delicate for others.

The encounter on the street with the werewolves is hilarious, I laughed out loud at Deacon’s erotic dancing and, let’s face it, the Kiwi accent alone is a scream, especially when spoken by a dumpy policewoman.

And I learnt that vampires can’t wear silver.

Great fun.

~ John Campbell


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