Sunday, September 25, 2022

REVIEW: What We Do In the Shadows (live action movie)

What We Do In the Shadows is a horror comedy mockumentary movie. It was the start of the overall What We Do In the Shadows franchise.


This mockumentary focuses on a group of vampire housemates: Viago von Dorna Schmarten Scheden Heimburg, who moved to New Zealand in pursuit of a human woman he fell in love with, who ended up marrying someone else; Vladislav the Poker, a formerly powerful tyrant who fell out of favor when he battled "The Beast" and lost; Deacon Brucke, who sees himself as a "young rebel"; and Petyr, an 8,000-year-old Nosferatu-like vampire who generally keeps to himself.

The mockumentary also follows several other characters: Jackie, Deacon's human familiar who cleans up after the group and finds human victims for them; Nick, a human victim who Petyr turns into a vampire; and Stu, Nick's human best friend who becomes a favorite of the group of vampires and introduces them to modern technology. There was also a local pack of werewolves that the vampires occasionally encountered.

I haven't seen the TV show based on this movie, although I've read that it follows an entirely different set of characters. This movie didn't particularly leave me with an urge to watch the series, although I may one day do so just to see how they differ and whether the TV series is an improvement.

I'd heard so many good things about the TV series that I thought this mockumentary movie would work well for me. It didn't. It wasn't unwatchable and I didn't necessarily hate it, but it was disappointing. Maybe I don't have the right amount of vampire pop culture knowledge? According to the Wikipedia page for this, it sounds like it had a ton of references I probably didn't get. Would that have made it funnier? I don't know. But as it was, this just fell kind of flat for me.

For the most part, it came across as pretty awkward, which may have been on purpose. It might have worked a bit better if it had incorporated its mockumentary status more. For example, if you accepted it as a fake documentary, it was odd that Nick didn't try to get the cameraman to help him more when he was brought to the house as a victim. Also, there was almost never any sense of what the camerapeople might be feeling as they filmed - there was a bit at the beginning that stated that the documentary crew had been promised protection, and the crew ran into trouble a few times, but there were also conspicuous moments when the documentary aspects weren't fully followed through with. For example, at one point one of the cameramen was literally killed, and yet the only death that received any sort of on-screen recognition was that of one of the characters the film crew was following. 

All in all, this was okay but not nearly as good or as funny as I was expecting. It also bugged me that there were no English subtitles/closed-captioning. I hadn't realized how much I'd come to rely on that for less audible moments in movies and shows until it wasn't an option.

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