Monday, 25 May 2015

May Sucks: What We Do In The Shadows (2014) Blu-ray Review

What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
Director: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Starring:  Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, and  Jonathan Brough

Running Time: 86 min

  Ever since the Flight of the Conchords, I've been a huge fan of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi and when I heard that they had put a vampire mockumentary together, I was ecstatic.  Even awesomer was that the film was getting some incredible reviews around the world, so I couldn't wait to see it.  Unfortunately, when the film finally came to my small Canadian hamlet, twice, my schedule/life/underwater basket weaving courses conflicted with the showings, so I was unable to see it, until now! I finally have it here in my hands and I can finally find out what they do in the shadows!

  New Zealand vampires Viago, Vladislav, Deacon and Petyr are being filmed for a documentary on vampires.  The camera crew follows them around getting an inside look on what it is like to be an average creature of the night in Wellington.  Things like being eternal flatmates, doing chores around the house, how they get dressed to go out when they cannot use mirrors and how they catch victims to feed their eternal hunger in this day and age are all brought to light in this fun and humorous film.
  Also, they are not the only supernatural creatures who show up in the darkest and not so darkest of nights in this New Zealand town.  This group of vamps must traverse the streets and sometimes battle for blood with werewolves, witches and even zombies!  Can this documentary crew survive a night with all these maniacal monsters or will they fall victim to these bloodsuckers like so many others in the past?

  This movie is hilarious and it's basically "This is Spinal Tap" but with vampires and a lot of blood.  Writer/directors Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords, Tongan Ninja) and Taika Waititi (Eagle vs Shark, Boy) give these maleficent creatures of the night a marvelous send up by taking them out of their romantic Gothic era and leaving them smack dab in the present, struggling to adapt to everyday life.  Clement and Waititi brilliantly spoof many of the tropes that vampire films have given us over the years and turned them upside down and given us a look at some of the not so suave undead.
  The cast is fantastic and each character brings something new to the comedy table.  Waititi and Clement bring their talents on-camera as well and play two of the leads Viago and Vladislav.  These characters work well together because they are like a vampire odd couple.  Viago is a prissy 18th century dandy and Vladislav is a mock up of Vald the impaler, who has just started to mellow out and is trying to find himself.  Both skilfully play their roles and kept me laughing throughout the film.  Also, Jonathan Brough (Power Rangers, The Family Law), who plays Deacon is excellent as well.  He plays the youngest vampire of the group, at 144 years of age, and the only one with a human familiar, Jackie, who he has promised to make a vampire...someday.  Brough is fun to watch and brings a lot of silliness to the part. 
  In addition, this mockmentary has some of the best effects that I've seen in a while.  They crew use a combination of practical and CGI effects that make it spectacular and very realistic to watch, which is refreshing.  There is a lot of good blood jokes spraying everywhere, cool looking vampires floating around and there is even a werewolf(ves) transformation scene, which are all done really well.  Especially considering the budget constraints that they may or may not have had.  On top of that, the make-up for Ben Fransham (30 Days of Night, Heavenly Creatures), who plays the ancient vampire Petyr is amazing.  Petyr is a "Count Orlock", "Nosferatu" looking creature who is just hideous and evil looking with large fangs and blue skin.  The make-up team that did him up, did a stunning job and should be commended.  

  To be honest, there isn't really that much to complain about buuuuuut the one thing that got me was that these vampires were totally out of touch with the time period.  I understand, there lies the joke, but going so far as to say that these creatures who have lived for so many years have never come across a computer is a bit of a stretch.  However, the way that this technology angle gets worked in later in the film is interesting and does eventually lead to some good laughs.

  There are some excellent special features on the Blu-ray and is over two hours.  There are Deleted Scenes, Video Extras and Interviews (with the characters), which includes the short film by Waititi and Clement, that was the genesis of the film. These are all extra scenes that could have been used in the film, but were taken out, I'm guessing because of time constraints.  Also, there is a Photo Gallery, Poster Gallery and Promo Videos, which are kind of fun to watch as well.
  I was surprised that there wasn't an audio commentary on the film but you can't have everything, I guess. 

  Overall, this is an outstanding film and a must see for anyone, fan of the horror genre or not.  It is first-rate satire with just enough blood and guts to impress even the most jaded gore hound.  So, if your looking for something horrifyingly fun to watch and need a good laugh at the end of day from a job that is slowly draining you of your life, then grab a copy of this and watch some real bloodsuckers at work.


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