Sunday, July 6, 2014
The Case for ShadowPlays
Seeing What we do in the Shadows in a nigh sold out session at the Embassy Cinema is probably the best way to experience this Kiwi comedy. Sure, the people were still slowly coming into the theatre as the lights dimmed (though they were put back up as people started stumbling) and the movie started but eventually, eventually, everyone took their place.
And the laughter started. Mocking Vampires is not new, and neither is almost anything else in the movie. But seeing Wellington mocked (the Big Kumara in particular) is a rare treat, and seeing Police stereotypes lovingly taunted also scored big with the audience (and me) too.
Taika Waititi is hilariously cute as Viago the main dandy vampire, pining for a lost love, whereas Jemaine Clement plays Vladislav, almost the exact opposite, a dangerous vampire, one wounded by his past experience with the Beast. They and their flatmates of vampires old and new wander around Wellington, trying to deal with blending the old with the new (Big Kumara versus Boogie Wonderland) and generally just getting by.
While it seems like more than half Wellington’s population must be a supernatural creature of some kind, and that the rest are subject to a suspiciously high disappearance rate, it is hilarious to see familiar landmarks acting as the backdrop to familiar supernatural comedy tropes.
And the humour is all done so low key that it is kind of like watching Flight of the Conchords if they relocated to Wellington, got bit by vampires, became undead, and didn’t burst into song every 10 minutes or so.
The low keyness means that not all of it works. I found myself not laughing at certain “funny” moments, though I knew mentally they should be quite funny (the young girl vampires and their chosen prey, for instance). But to be fair, that was a very rare occasion – mostly, I was smiling my way through it all, if not necessarily laughing.
My one regret was that, despite the appearance of the wonderful Madeline Sami, there were very few interesting female characters. The female cop was comedy gold and basically stole the movie for me, and the scene where she and her stoic male off-sider arrested the full moon night killer was the best in the film.
Verdict: What we do in the Shadows was a hilarious film that brought understated Conchords-type humour to the big screen. Everyone appears to be having heaps of fun, and the audience – albeit from a biased Wellington perspective – is in on it. 8 vampire bites out of 10.