What We Do in the Shadows comes from New Zealand and some of the good folks behind Flight of the Conchords, if you were into that weirdo, kicky little tv series. The conceit here is very simple; a documentary crew is filming four roommates who live in a creepy old house; they’re all vampires, by the by. The roommates, not the documentary crew. The genius of the movie is in the way it lives into the vampire clichés. Ben Fransham is Petyr, a Nosferatu like creature mainly confined to the basement; Jonathan Brugh is a leather wearing, Lost Boy-esque dude; Jemaine Clement is a violent, Dracula-esque nobleman; and Taika Waititi is an Interview with the Vampire-esque dandy. The performances really are brilliant; all four of those main characters really have some great, very funny moments. Stu Rutherford plays a friend of the guys that just happens to be a human being, but, what the hell, he’s a fun guy so they hang out with him anyway. I’m really kind of over the whole mockumentary format with the talking head interviews and fly on the wall style scenes. But the film does have a lot of humor and some brilliant set pieces. A short scene of the guys attempting to get Petyr to come to a roommate meeting is a riot (“Petyr’s a thousand years old . . . he’s not . . . he’s not coming to the flat meeting.”) Waititi has a brilliant scene where he brings a young lady home and is attempting to seduce her while also surreptitiously putting newspaper down on the floor in order to minimize the mess when he kills her. And let’s just say that Clement’s explanation of why vampires prefer to feed on virgins . . . well, yeah, let’s just say. The film feels a bit long even at under an hour-and-a-half. I understand the desire to stretch this to feature length, but it really would have functioned better, I think, as a short. There’s some unnecessary violence toward the end and a lengthy party sequence just kind of goes nowhere. At a tight hour, this would have killed. As it is, it kind of wore out its welcome with me and, though there are some funny bits, it just didn’t really win me over on the whole. Whatever. 2 ½ stars.
tl;dr – mockumentary lovingly spoofs conventions of vampire movies and features some very funny performances, but it’s ultimately stretched very thin and features a lot of down-time. 2 ½ stars.