It’s kinda sad knowing an entire generation will grow up with stuff like Vampire’s Suck and Dracula: Dead and Loving It being their only idea of what a vampire spoof movie is or should be. Or any spoof movie, for that matter. It’s depressing knowing we have to go back decades to stuff like Airplane or Hot Shots in order to find the last great spoof movies. Hollywood’s sensibilities are just different these days when it comes to the spoof, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t pockets of resistance popping up around the globe.
What We Do in the Shadows is easily one of the most clever and genuinely funny spoof movies I’ve seen in quite some time. Framed as a documentary tracking the lives of a group of vampires living in New Zealand, the film brilliantly deconstructs the life of a typical vampire by extracting the humor out of practically every single vampire cliche. From opening up their coffins to hit the snooze button on an alarm clock to venturing out on the town in search of human blood only to be turned down from nightclubs when the bouncers refuse to invite them in, there isn’t an aspect of vampire lore this movie doesn’t poke fun at. And when it feels like they’ve run the course, they hilariously shift gears and inject other monsters into the mix too, including a silly subplot involving a beef the vampires have with a local pack of werewolves.
Written, directed by and starring Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi, the film has all the trappings of a cult hit, and it proves this duo who’ve been around awhile (Eagle vs. Shark, Flight of the Conchords) are ready for a larger, more mainstream audience. Clement and Waititi both play vampires in the film, and each of their flat mates has their own style and storyline. There’s the scary 8,000-year-old vampire who remains in the basement, and a newbie vampire who still hangs out with his human best friend and doesn’t exactly play by all the rules. You have the house leader, the former tyrannical torturer and the list goes on.
It’s all so smartly written and super witty, and you just want to keep watching it. Clement and Waititi mine not only the vampires’ current lives for humor, but they also color each character’s backstory with tales of different time periods, giving the film a very well-rounded delivery. This is a movie that loves its vampires, first and foremost, and it never feels like its exploiting the character solely because it’s a hot trend. If you’re fan of vampires and vampire lore, there’s no doubt you’ll dig this. If these guys represent the voice for spoof movies moving forward, we’re in a really good place.
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