Jemaine Clement is hit or miss with me. I loved him in Gentlemen Broncos; Flight of the Conchords, not so much. Yeah, I said it – for someone who has heard Conchords referred to as, “Yeah, it’s like coffee. It’s an acquired taste”… well, let’s just say I’m not a coffee drinker. However, I digress. I had a chance to watch his vehicle What We Do In the Shadows, which chronicles the undead lives of a group of vampires living in modern-day New Zealand. Reality-style films are a gamble, but this one is, well, funny as shit. Available on Amazon, iTunes and Vudu, here are five reasons to sit down and devote 90 minutes to this one.
#1 – The How-We-Met Stories
There’s something magical about learning how two people met. Doesn’t matter to me if it’s a a pair of lovebirds or two friends that have a kick ass friendship. Stories are fascinating to me, and I love hearing them. Hearing a how-we-met story in context of becoming undead adds a dimension to this experience that’s equal parts funny and sentimental.
#2 – The realities of daily life
Chores suck. In a perfect world, no one would have to wash dishes or vacuum. Alas, life must go on, and for those of us that don’t like living in an oversized petri dish, we clean. The vampires fall into this bucket as well. Watching someone use supernatural powers for chores, or fight over who hasn’t done the dishes for five years, puts a new spin on a very real fight that many people endure. Whether it’s your spouse or your roommate, you’ll appreciate this one.
#3 – The visual gags
Hissing, floating, silver allergies, lack of a reflection – all aspects of the traditional undead. Those tropes are used as visual gags, often in context of trying to fit into the modern world or coping with daily life. It could have gone cheesy and terrible fast. Luckily, it doesn’t.
#4 – Commentary on relationships
There’s a bad breakup in this one. There’s also a marriage with shifting power dynamics, and a semi-tragic love story that results in the painful decision to let a loved one go whilst still holding a candle. It manages to be both funny and poignant at the right times. I was moved, and anyone that has had to make similar decisions will recognize this. That’s difficult to accomplish, let alone in a snarky comedy. Bravo to Clement and co-writer/-director/-star Taika Waititi.
#5 – Did I mention it’s funny?
By funny, I mean very funny. I guffawed at several points. I love many different types of humor: slapstick, visual gags, puns, deadpan line delivery. This one has it all. I think you’ll like it as much as I did.
There you go. Give this one a chance and see if it’s your cup of tea.