Friday, January 29, 2016

Overlooked Film of the Week- "What We Do In The Shadows"

Overlooked Film of the Week- #102

What We Do In The Shadows
How many vampire movies will be made? How does their popularity fluctuate? What draws us to vampires and werewolves and other mythic creatures? Do we find them intriguing or are they just a backdrop to greater and bigger ideas? I think its the latter, these characters survive through the time because artists and writers find new ways to keep them relevant. That wouldn't happen if the storytelling they were involved in didn't matter to some degree. We keep seeing these creatures because people are finding innovative and enriching ways of telling stories with them. You maybe like me and you can't stand "Twilight," but that doesn't mean it hasn't meant something to millions of other people around the world.

"What We Do In The Shadows" is a mockumentary comedy about a film crew capturing the days in the lives of a group of vampires who all live together. The main vampires are Vladislav (Jermaine Clement), Viago (Taika Waititi) and Deacon (Jonny Brugh). The entire movie revolves around these vampires, all hundreds and hundreds of years old. They are trying to settle into the lifestyles of this modern world as well as keeping their identities as vampires a secret. Its not that hard, they can fly, they can morph into bats, they have mind-control powers and just about every other power a vampire has ever had over the ages of the lore. The film also touches base when they bite a man named Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) and he joins the group. It brings a completely different style and norm to the group as this modern man becomes a vampire. It shows just how bringing a man from today into an ancient secret group can have both pros and cons.

What I instantly loved about the movie is that clearly Clement and Waititi, who also wrote and directed the movie, really did their homework. They clearly absorbed the Universal horror films, they clearly read everything they could find on vampire mythology and Vlad The Impaler. There are references to "Nosferatu" and "Twilight." There was a gag that referenced "The Lost Boys" that was so grand that I smiled big from ear to ear. "What We Do In The Shadows" is a celebration of everything that comes out at night and has sharp teeth. But its not just a comedy taking shots at easy targets. Its really a compliment to this medium. The movie takes on a story of its own, and finds another innovative and unique way of telling stories with vampires in the backdrop. Something that is offbeat and funny and even sometimes full of surprises.

I think the acting work done by Clement, Waititi, Brugh and Gonzalez-Macuer is all superb. Each of these actors is a true discovery and I can't wait to look through the filmography of each of these guys and keep them on my radar. They handle the story-line well. They create identifiable characters. They have near-perfect comedic timing. This is a very weird movie, and they definitely embrace the weird and turn into something hip. Everyone is so good that I really can't say I have a favorite character, nobody really jumps out at me more than anybody else. There are moments in this movie where everybody shines, everybody has that one perfect moment. When I can't pick a favorite character, I find that to be a masterstroke of character creation.

But the genius of "What We Do In The Shadows" is that even though it references just about everything vampire, it uses those references and those parodies to tell an original story. Many have tried at that, and many have failed. So when something this fresh hits, its kind of a miracle. This is proof that no matter if you make a movie about vampires, aliens, werewolves, fairys or Minotaur's who eat cement for lunch, if you write a good story with rich characters, people will most likely love your movie.

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