Did you know that you wanted to see a goofy mockumentary about vampires from New Zealand? Did you even know that such a thing existed? I didn't, not until it showed up at my local theater in Hartford. What We Do in the Shadows is a hilarious, if poorly titled film by Jemaine Clement (one half of Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi. Some movie math for you: The Lost Boys + Interview with the Vampire + Bram Stoker's Dracula + The Real World + This Is Spinal Tap = What We Do in the Shadows. Convinced yet?
Waititi stars as Viago, one of four vampiric flatmates in Wellington, New Zealand. He shares a flat with Vladislav (Clement), who is "kind of a pervert," Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), the "young one" (i.e. he's under 200 years old), and Petyr (Ben Fransham), the ancient ghoul who bears striking resemblance to Max Shreck in Nosferatu. Rather than engaging in adventures against floridly dressed and spoken Italian vampires, these chums quarrel over mundane things such as who has to wash the dishes, the challenges of finding fresh human blood at the local clubs, and the tension created when a new vamp finds his way into the mix. That acolyte is Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), a layabout who alternately loves and hates his new lifestyle: he enjoys flying through open windows, yet hates that he can't eat chips anymore without vomiting gouts of blood.
There is a looseness to the tone of the film that suggests extensive improvisation, yet the immensely talented actors pull it off while making it all feel real. The first shot is of Viago disarming his alarm clock, and then rising out of his coffin, goofy grin plastered to his face as he regards the camera out of the corner of his eye. The vampires have allowed a camera crew to film them in the months leading up to the Unholy Masquerade, in which all the local monsters - including zombies, witches, and werewolves - get together to have a party. Before this, we witness plenty of MTV-style confessionals, one of which includes Vladislav discussing the advantages of virgin blood by way of sandwich metaphor. He speaks a line so funny that I embarrassed myself with how loudly I laughed.
There is a bit of plotting about an apparently devastating ex-girlfriend of Vladislav's that doesn't pay off too well, in addition to confusing and swiftly resolved tension about a human who finds his way into their group, but the film is so good at sending up vampire tropes in the silliest, most quotidian ways possible that you won't notice the uneven parts too much. And at 86 minutes, it is destined to be a compulsively quotable Halloween party staple for years to come.