Top 100 Films #37 – What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

 

what-we-do-in-the-shadows1#37. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
Directed by: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Written by: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Starring: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Rhys Darby, Jonathan Brugh, Ben Fransham, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford

What We Do in the Shadows is a purely personal pick for my top 100 – it may not be the best constructed or most thought-provoking film ever made, but it sure as hell is the funniest movie I’m ever seen.  Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi bring their unique comedic twist to the mockumentary genre, and it just so happens to have been the best thing in 1984’s This is Spinal Tap.  What We Do in the Shadows sees four vampires – Viago (Taika Waititi), Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Petyr (Ben Fransham) – sharing a flat together in modern day Wellington.  The four vampires are all of varying ages ranging from 183-8,000, have their own unique sensibilities, beliefs, and habits, and all have different definitions of what it means to be a vampire.  When a young man named Nick (Cori Conzalez-Macuer) suddenly joins the group, the dynamic of the household begins to change for better and for worse. I’m not exaggerating when I say that What We Do in the Shadows is easily my most-watched movie of all time – since its release in 2014 I’ve seen it at least a dozen or more times.  This is entirely due to how hilarious its screenplay is, how lovable its characters are, and how absurd the entire conceit is.  The script, written by co-directors Clement and Waititi, moves at a lightning fast pace, never stopping for too long and giving the audience the information they need without bogging them down in the details.  Many comedies suffer from a weak, slow, or unfunny final act due to their pacing and the fact that screenwriters feel the need to add dramatic weight to their stories – What We Do in the Shadows ramps up in its final act, never missing a step.  The characters crafted by Clement and Waititi are pitch perfect, with the two most memorable being played by the writer-directors themselves.  Waititi’s Viago is adorably naive and charming, and Clement’s overly-aggressive and emotionally scarred Vladislav provides for some of the best moments in the films final act.  The sense of camaraderie between the three lead vampires is satisfying from the get-go, their chemistry is obvious and adds to much of the humor in the film’s first act. Backing them up are the delusional and eccentric Dean, played by Jonathan Brugh, the young and ambitious Nick, played by Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, and Nick’s human best friend Stu (Stu Rutherford), who teaches the group of vampires how to operate a computer – leading to the four doing their “dark bidding” on eBay, “poking” unsuspecting victims on Facebook, and seeing a sunset and sunrise for the first time in hundreds of years via YouTube.  The production design and special effects are impressive for a comedy of this scale, with the set design of the vampire’s house and the vampire’s costumes being the standout – Deacon’s style in particular can’t be matched. What We Do in the Shadows is loaded with incredibly memorable moments that words can’t possibly do any justice in describing – it truly is one of the funniest, most absurdly memorable movies ever made.  If you haven’t yet seen What We Do in the Shadows, you can’t possibly know what a hilarious experience you’re missing out on.  

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