What We Do in the Shadows (2014) is a Kiwi Delight
The BBC created a listing of the top 100 greatest comedies of all time. They polled 253 film critics from 52 countries compiling a comprehensive international list. What We Do in the Shadows came in at #62. Not too shabby for a low budget New Zealand production. This kiwi vampire mockumentary entertains and delights.
A film crew follows three vampires as they adjust to modern living with roommates, assign chores from the chore wheel, and navigate the singles scene in Wellington, New Zealand. Filmed for $1.6 million dollars, the film grossed over $6.9 million in the United States alone. The film is probably one of the most financially successful horror/comedy films Americans haven’t heard of. That is until now. Amazon Prime is streaming the film for free.
The three lead actors are large stars already. Taika Waititi, “Viago,” recently directed Thor: Ragnarok. Jemaine Clement, “Vladislav,” is the writer/actor responsible for Flight of the Conchords (TV series 2007-2009 and now a major motion picture opening in 2018). Jonny Brugh, “Deacon,” is a series regular on 800 Words, playing on US PBS stations, as “Monty.”
A mockumentary is “a motion picture or television program that takes the form of a serious documentary in order to satirize its subject.” Rob Reiner coined the term during press junkets for the film This Is Spinal Tap (1984), probably the most successful mockumentary film produced. Other examples are Best in Show (2000) and Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999). They are also called fake documentaries. Comedy is a key genre to a mockumentary films success.
Critics enjoyed the movie. Roger Ebert gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars. It has a 7.6/10 rating on IMDb and a 96% Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score. Rolling Stone Magazine’s Peter Travers says it best: “But when the vamps hit the town to party with werewolves, zombies and the strangest creatures of all, you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face. A good sign.” Actually, it’s a fantastic sign for the B-movie.
Taiki and Jemaine secured $1.4 million dollars for a spin-off of this film. It will be a 6-episode 30-minute situation comedy (sitcom) tentatively titled Wellington Paranormal. It follows police detectives Mike Minogue and Karen O’Leary reprising their roles in What We Do in the Shadows as they investigate paranormal phenomena. The website Gizmodo calls it “like the X-Files but with zombies and werewolves.” Stay tuned for US access.