Sometimes Hollywood can really get caught up in trends for years and years. Recently, we’ve seen dozens of superhero movies, dystopian-future films, and, most notably, so many goddamn vampire movies.
And even though this factory-farming method of exhausting genres generally results in the majority of the population loathing what they once loved, there comes a rare occasion where the genre is pushed to the point of being exhausted—and then makes a turn for the ludicrous.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where comedy gold lies.
Take for instance the teen slasher movie genre, which has now been lampooned so many times even the spoofs and parodies seem tired and stupid. By the time the last Scary Movie came out we had already had enough Wayans brothers to last us a lifetime of watching White Chicks.
But at its inception, Scary Movie, the spoof of every corny late-nite horror movie, was a hit—and pretty damn hilarious. It played off what we already knew about the genre, and then proceeded to push it to absurdity using its contrived plots and expected twists for obvious humor.
Now here we are, decades later. Teen slashers are out. Starry-eyed bloodsuckers are in. Well, at least for a while—then you realize Twilight actually considered itself a saga. You can only watch the quasi-emotive wooden board known as Kristen Stewart try to act alluring for so long before you abandon all hope of being interested.
Even shows such True Blood, ones that tried to be deliberately off-kilter and a little campy outgrew their roots. Are we really supposed to believe that everyone in this little southern town is super attractive and has all their teeth, much less fangs?
Well kids, here we are. The point of satire has reached the Vampire genre. In fact, it might be well past that point, but no one has done it well until now. And it wasn’t done by Hollywood, or big picture studies, but rather several kooky Kiwi’s in a small-budget indie flick, who play four centuries-old roomies dealing with the realities, blunders, and unfortunate side-effects of being vampires.
Enter four flatmates:
Viago, (aged 379) a 17th century Dandy
Vladislav (Aged 862) aka ‘Vladislav the Poker’
Deacon (Aged 183) the ‘young bad boy’
Petyr (Aged 8,000) the original vampire who bit them all
So, aside from the obvious easy target that is the neck biter genre, what exactly makes What We Do in the Shadows such a success?
Vampire legends are ridiculous when taken out of context.
Like all solid satires, Shadows starts with the truth. Well, at least as much truth as you can muster from fictitious creatures like vampires.
But remember all those ‘truths’ about vampires? The hatred of sunlight, the aversion to garlic, no reflections, and turning into bats? Well, despite as inconsistent as all the modern takes on vampires make those elements, this flick addresses all of them and explains them the best way they know how. Some of them are rooted in myth and legend while others such as why they prefer virgin blood, are really more like opinions than actual vampire rules.
Addressing the less-than-sexy side of Vampirism
Sure, there’s the whole hypnotizing the ladies thing, but there’s also plenty of not-so-glamorous realities that come with being a creature of the night.
For instance, when your alarm goes off, you may find yourself averse to the sunlight, but it’s still better than dealing with the stress of peeking through your blinds and hoping you don’t spontaneously combust.
The whole mirror thing? Creepy in a movie. But a real nightmare when you’re trying to get dressed every night. Can you imagine if you were trying to nail your “Dead but Delicious” style and all you had to look at was a sketch?
Sure, you may find it sexy to lure a fair maiden back to your castle and seductively bite her neck, but there’s plenty that could go wrong—you can’t just bite a neck anywhere, it takes a lot of preparation. And always make sure you put newspaper down just in case.
Not to mention the whole immortality thing gets old really quick. Centuries of free time means it’s best to find a hobby, like erotic dancing. Or torture.
It’s pretty much like watching The Real World… with vampires.
The style of shooting itself is done in the style of The Real World, complete with intro slides, one-on-one interviews, intimate heart-to-hearts, and real-world drama. If you’ve ever seen the MTV classic, you know how addicting it can be and how involved you can get in the lives of the characters. And as ridiculous as a night out gets with The Real World crew, you can imagine it gets a little more interesting when you’re undead and pick a fight with some other creatures of the night, like say, a group of Werewolf bros.
Of course, not all conflicts come to blows or hissing at each other. Sometimes you just need to decide whose turn it is to do the blood-soaked dishes.
But on top of it all, like The Real World, these guys deal with real issues and complex emotions, and really open up on camera, including being (literally) in a dark place after breaking up with an ex, also known as “The Beast.” Turns out, Vampires are actually pretty relatable.
It features the greatest pun ever read in a movie.
The vampires learn how to eBay.