Funny, clever, and gruesome—albeit overlong.
What We Do in the Shadows is a mockumentary following four vampires sharing a house in Wellington, New Zealand.
The film works best when it satirizes reality TV and focuses on the minutia of household life. The vampires bicker over household chores, dress for a night out, and prepare dinner for their would-be victims. In these moments, the film shines. Watching them struggle to dress up without mirrors had me roaring.
As a genre fan, I liked how the film satirized multiple cinematic vampire incarnations. Everything from 1922’s Nosferatu through 2008’s Twilight. The interplay between these incarnations offers some of the film’s best laughs. There’s also a group of werewolves, lead by Rhys Darby in a scene-stealing performance.
I also enjoyed the film’s willingness to embrace the gore. One horrific yet hilarious scene involves a vampire trying and failing to devour a victim without spraying blood all over an antique couch.
But about the length. Even at just 86 minutes, the film drags. The forced plot provides little emotional or comedic payoff and feels like dead weight. If reality TV can do without plot, why can’t the film that skewers it? Given how much the film gets right, it’s a petty quibble, but one that keeps What We Do in the Shadows shy of perfection.