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  • Julian Wood


THREE AND A HALF STARS When you get three vampires living together in a flat, there's going to be some tension...


Starring Taika Waititi, Jermain Clement

This is a delightful and unbelievably silly comedy, born of collaboration between Taika Waititi and his school friend and now sometime writing partner Jemaine Clement.

Clement would be well known to Australian audiences from his central role in the long running TV series THE FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS, which confirmed that some of the best situation comedy on Australian TV screens is imported from across the ditch. Whereas Clement has gone for pure comedy (he also collaborated in, and starred in, Waititi’s EAGLE AND SHARK (2007)), Waititi has also explored strong dramatic material. Back in 2010 his feature BOY was heartfelt and often searing account of a tough childhood.

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS is simple to grasp: three vampires happen to flat share in downtown Wellington, New Zealand. Viago (Waititi), Vladislav (Clement) and Deacon (Johnathan Brugh) are your common or garden vamps; they are hundreds of years old, given to dandified velvet smoking jacket wardrobe choices, and to communicating through impenetrable Transylvanian accents. The film is also a mockumentary which gives an added layer of absurdist humour when the film crew become implicated in the various vampiric situations.

It is probably not unfair to point out that the film is really one giant sketch. It explores more or less all the various gags that could come out of imagining what modern day vampires would have to go through to live in downtown NZ today. For example, they cannot go into a dwelling unless invited in, and so we get the hilarious spectacle of them going clubbing and having to inveigle the uncomprehending bouncers into asking them into the club. There are, of course, lots of gags about their blood-centred diet and their struggles to resist chomping into the one non-vampire who comes to flat share. You get the general idea. Just relating more of the gags would not only risk spoilers, it would actually sell WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS short.

Suffice it to say that the film has a great deal of silliness and wit and a satisfying mix of different types of, er, biting humour. Above all though, it has an abundance of charm. The performers are obviously relishing the humour but, more importantly, they draw us into this somehow so we go with them and enjoy the ride. At the screening this reviewer went to, people were chuckling or laughing out loud from the beginning through to the end. What more could you ask from a comedy film? If you are looking for a good laugh and a night out then this well-executed comedy should be high on your list.



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