There’s no doubting that the vampire genre is stronger than ever right now with films like Let The Right One In, Let Me In, Thirst, Only Lovers Left Alive and Byzantium at the forefront of horror cinema. These monsters of the night have been leaving their mark on the genre for nearly 100 years, dating back to the era of silent films, yet filmmakers are still finding new ways to tell their stories.
Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi have not only done just that, but they’ve shined a light on cinema’s oldest of monsters in a way that has never been done before with their horror-comedy What We Do in the Shadows. Shot in a faux documentary style, What We Do in the Shadows is a brilliantly funny journey through the lives of a few vampires living together and the daily struggle of being immortals who must feast on blood.
Other than surviving on the blood of humans, sleeping in coffins and bursting into flames when exposed to the sun, the most intriguing aspect of vampires is the simple fact that they live forever. And because they live forever there’s always a rich history that follows their journey as an immortal, one that isn’t often explored in films. We saw a recent example of this in Jim Jarmusch’s excellent Only Lovers Left Alive, which was much more interested in delving into the lives of a couple of vampires and peeling back the layers of what it’s truly like to live forever.
While that film was a dark, brooding and almost depressing take on vampires, What We Do in the Shadows has the same approach, only it’s a hilarious, light-hearted and uplifting little film that shows the immortal bond shared between a few friends. And that’s what is so distinguished about Clement and Waititi’s film; the story isn’t so much about the fact that they’re monsters, it’s about a few centuries old friends who happen to have to lure innocent people into their home and drink their blood in order to stay alive, you know, that sorta thing.
It’s all wonderfully tied together by the best set of characters we’re likely to see this year in Vladislav, Viago, Deacon and the newly turned vamp, Nick. Each are given their own time to shine as the narrative smartly weaves throughout their personalities while never abandoning the idea of friendship. Like most friends, despite the occasional fight and the desire to drive a stake through their hearts, they’re at their very best when they’re together; just like it should be.
What more is there to say? It’s a charming film with witty dialogue, amazing characters and plenty of monsters prowling the night. The best part, though, is that it’s genuinely hilarious and it comes to life thanks to smart writing and unforgettable characters. What We Do in the Shadows is a great addition to the genre, one that is all about friendship and the eternal bond between a few fanged besties.