What We Do in the Shadows is as consistent as a comedy can get. This mockumentary never misses a beat. Every joke, whether big or small, lands. Written and directed by and , they've made an original vampire comedy that earns more than laughs.
Set in Wellington, New Zealand, a group of vampires permit a documentary crew to document their lives. Despite being vampires, these flatmates couldn't be more different. There's Viago (Taika Waititi), the sensitive one. Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) is the cocky one of the group, reminiscent of Gary Oldman's Dracula. There's Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), the vampire that doesn't do his dishes. And last but not least, Petyr (Ben Fransham), the shy member of the group.
They're all the furthest thing from the cool and moody vampire archetype we've come to endure over the past few years. These are the unpopular vampires, the ones that don't know how to cleanly kill their prey. They've been alive for a few hundred years, but they've all shown little mental growth over their time on Earth.
Watching them interact with the modern world sounds like an opportunity for easy gags, but Waititi and Clement avoid any on-the-nose gags. If they do explore more obvious territory, they go about it in fresh ways. When they are taught how to use a computer, they do it to watch the sunrise or bid on eBay, and that contrast of the silly and character-driven is representative of the film.
What We Do in the Shadows is broad, but it's also human. You love all these characters, even the horrifying Petyr. They have insecurities, relationship issues, awkward friendships, and so on. This a surprisingly character-driven comedy. Because all the vampires are fully fleshed out, when there is one semi-dramatic moment, it works more than you'd expect from this concept.
Not a single character is a weak link in this group. They all have their moments, personalities, and highs and lows. You love all them for different reasons, even though they kill a bunch of people. Because they're all such underdog vampires, you want things to go well for them, despite the fact they're all murderers.
What makes them all so appealing, like the best kind of comedy, is that none of these vampires know how funny they are. When one of them compares drinking the blood of a virgin to eating an untouched sandwich, it's an amazing joke because it's said with total seriousness.
Every joke and big gag is timed perfectly in this movie. What We Do in the Shadows is a wonderful comedy, thanks to characters you never want to stop watching. The only problem with the film is that it's under 90 minutes. You want more from this world and these characters. It's a selfish complaint, but it only illustrates how good of a movie Waititi and Clement have made.