LIFF28 - What We Do In The Shadows - Cinema Review

'a terrifically funny film, full of quotable moments and laugh out loud gags. The werewolves cry of 'we're werewolves, not swearwolves' to counter their own bad language culture is clearly a stayer'

The new film from Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi, What We Do In The Shadows brought the LIFF house down on Saturday evening, and deservedly so. Loosely pitched as a mockumentary, Clement and Waititi set their not inconsiderable irreverent comedy sights on vampires and manage to produce a film that is both consistently funny, well paced and satisfying of plot.

Recently, I watched Murder By Death, a film that got me thinking about modern parodies. Almost without exception they are all terrible, killed off by the Scary Movie anti-parody, anti-nuance, anti-funny genre.

It's not quite time to declare a new version of the parody lives, or even a new genre entirely, but perhaps What We Do In The Shadows' most significant and subtle success is how it manages to spear what the vampire genre has become, without ever saying that that is what it has set out to do. 'When you're a vampire, you become very sexy', says Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), lounging on a filthy chair, in clothes centuries old. The old vampire in the cellar, Petyr (Ben Fransham) immediately calls to mind Nosferatu and Klaus Kinski in Herzog's remake, showing where What We Do In The Shadows' vampire sympathies lie.

It's not hard to see that Waititi and Clement have the Twilight series and its like in their sights, something that becomes even easier to see once the local werewolf troupe shows up. The werewolves might actually be amongst the film's other major successes, a group of young-to-middle age 'bro' yuppies, struggling to practice a mixture of self control and realise a state of self identity.

Perhaps though, delving in to Clement and Waititi's underlying messages misses some of the What We Do In The Shadows point. This is a terrifically funny film, full of quotable moments and laugh out loud gags. The werewolves cry of 'we're werewolves, not swearwolves' to counter their own bad language culture is clearly a stayer but there's also a terrific gag about 'dark bidding' and Vladislav's (Clement) metaphor of virgin blood and a sandwich takes the film's best moment and loudest laugh.

Waititi, as a dandy vampire trying to get the group to clean the flat up, Clement and Brugh make a compelling central trio and the former two, sharing director duties, pivot the plot quickly before they run out of jokes. It worked for a hall full of people ready to lap it up and I suspect it will work for others too. Expect the usual Shaun Of The Dead Horror/Comedy comparisons but, this time, be aware; not only might they be accurate, this might be the better film.




What We Do In The Shadows screens again at LIFF28 on Monday 10th November in Vue at 20.30.

The 28th Leeds International Film Festival runs from 5th-20th November 2014 at cinemas around the city, including Hyde Park Picture House and Leeds Town Hall. Tickets and more information are available via the official LIFF website.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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