(The gist: While I usually demand my horror comedy maintain a high level of actual horror, I am granting What We Do in the Shadows an exemption. This film about a house of vampire roommates in present day is so hysterical that I did not care which genre into which it fell.)
I have enjoyed an excellent run with horror comedy lately. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon began a streak that continued on into The Voices, Cooties, and The Final Girls. All hysterical and excellent films. Horror comedy isn’t really my genre; if given the choice, I will always favor straight horror. However, this little streak has me questioning my preferences.
What We Do in the Shadows came to my New (to me) Horror viewing docket at the request of one of my viewing partners. Knowing his propensity for comedy, I was not surprised to discover it was a horror comedy. I was, however, not expecting to enjoy the purely comical aspects of the film as much as I did (and as much as our accidental extra viewing partners did as well).
What We Do in the Shadows is a mockumentary, docudrama (pick your terminology) about a house full of varyingly aged vampire roommates struggling to live in the modern world. The story juxtaposes the most cliché and archaic vampire lore against the reality show staples you would expect to see on a series on TLC or MTV.
Yet this combination is performed brilliantly, resulting in only entertainment.
Each character is very different, turned vampire at different periods in time. These varied time periods clash against the backdrop of the mundane realities of cohabitation like doing the dishes and cleaning up after exsanguinating one’s victims. The premise is very clever, and each character is fully realized to contribute to the execution of that idea.
Generally, when I watch a horror comedy, I want real horror with some extra comedy heaped in. I do not want to lose the fear or the gore or the disturbing subject matter. Yet, with What We Do in the Shadows, the comedy is so well orchestrated, and the movie is so uproariously hilarious that I did not care. I laughed so fully and unadulterated that I did not need the horror elements to satisfy my viewing requirements.
In all honesty, What We Do in the Shadows does not really fit into the horror genre. With bullshit movies like Twilight breaking vampires and other supernatural creatures from the horror label, What We Do in the Shadows could be considered purely a comedy. There is a little bit of blood, a touch of mild violence, but there is no fear, no gore, no trauma. Ultimately, there is no horror.
But again, it is so good at what it is doing that I did not care. At all.
On the surface, What We Do in the Shadows seems like simplistic surface comedy. However, all the references to and incorporations of vampire, werewolf, and other supernatural legends are precise and clever. The characters are very idiosyncratic with intriguing backstories and quirks; their interactions are entertaining and interesting.
And most importantly, the comedy is expertly crafted and timed, just as any horror element would need to be. The horror is definitely lacking in this horror comedy, but the quality comedy is more than enough to sate the viewing thirst.