The guys behind Flight of the Conchords have rescued vampires from teenage girls, rejoice!
Last week, at Somerset House’s screening of What We Do in the Shadows, I realised I feel really sorry for vampires. They get a pretty unfair rap, especially since Twilight painted them out as whiney, sparkly little emos. Also, after two hours sitting on the stone courtyard at Somerset House, I know what sleeping in a crypt must feel like. Achy, that’s what. To be fair though, this was more a result of my own lack of forward planning: we were surrounded by seasoned Summer Screen pros, who seemed to have disemboweled their sofas and brought all the cushions. They looked perfectly comfortable. I have been to Somerset House before; I know the floor is made of stone cobbles.
I won’t compare it to Shaun of the Dead in that zombie-minded way everybody seems to, because it’s better – funnier and sharper
Luckily, What We Do in the Shadows is so much fun I’d have happily watched it whilst hanging upside down by my feet. I won’t compare it to Shaun of the Dead in that zombie-minded way everybody seems to, because it’s better. Funnier and sharper and on a much lower budget, the low-fi feel weaving in perfectly with the film’s mockumentary approach, this is the comedy every film student wishes they’d made. Hell, it’s a comedy most professional comedy scriptwriters will wish they made. A gory, ridiculous, mad as a bag of bats, feeding frenzy of a film. I’d have been happy if it had been twice the length, even after I started to lose all feeling in my legs.
The very familliar dual-genres of vampire movies and mockumentaries, which have been sucked almost completely dry in the past, freak out cynics by sitting bolt upright in Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s latest. Despite enjoying Flight of the Conchords and having liked (but not loved) Eagle vs Shark, neither had ever made me laugh out loud. That’s where What We Do in the Shadows stands out, delivering the kind of snorting laughs that are generally inappropriate in public, and the kinds of fits of giggles that possess you all over again hours later.
The household dynamic of an 18th century dandy, a medieval pervert and an ex-Nazi, all of whom also happen to be vampires, plus an 8000 year old ghoul who rarely leaves his skeleton-littered tomb, will be instantly familiar to anyone who has ever lived in a student house (vampires have to do washing up too, you know, and they don’t like it any more than you do). This is a comedy horror, a college comedy, an odd-couple story, which manages to pull off both offbeat surrealism and straight-up situational comedy. This film has clawed back vampires from the truly bloodsucking clutches of teen drama. And in case you’re wondering, yes, there are werewolves – and a message about prejudice guys, so listen up.
What We Do in the Shadows has clawed back vampires from the truly bloodsucking clutches of teen drama
The screening was introduced by co-directors Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, who asked us whether we, the audience, were the real vampires. I was eating manchego cheese and hummus and drinking Sauvignon Blanc, which made me fairly sure I’m not a vampire, just probably a bit of a wanker. The eminently British setting of Somerset House, with its white façade and Union Jack flapping majestically over the screen, seemed an odd setting for such a grassroots movie, but this was definitely a movie deserving of the fanfare of a UK premiere. General release will be in November. I will be watching it again. And then maybe once more after that.
All images: Madman Entertainment