Like every little girl, when I grew up I wanted to be a vampire. …wait, that’s not a thing? Well, I was a weird kid. I remember watching Interview With A Vampire and being totally enamoured with Lestat and his charming arrogance, as well as being very confused by how much I wanted to be bitten by one of the Backstreet Boys in the video for ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)’ – don’t act like you don’t know the song, everyone knows the song.
Vampires were dark, dangerous and totally charismatic monsters. Christopher Lee gave Dracula his now iconic look as the sultry dark lord of the night, which was only beaten by Gary Oldman in Francis-Ford-Coppola’s-Bram-Stoker’s-Dracula where he definitely made a few more of us willing to be one of his brides. Vampires were awesome. Until the dreaded Twilight saga came along. Suddenly, my beloved undead horrors became a joke, thanks to glittery pretty boy ‘vegetarian’ vamps, along with the True Blood TV series and other teenage supernatural romance novels. I was resigned to watching classic Hammer Horror and hoping that one day there would be something that would make me fall in love with vampires again.
My patience (and occasional ranting) was rewarded with the 2014 mockumentary horror comedy, What We Do in The Shadows. I found this film through my good friend Rachel over on Tumblr – we did Film Studies together for two years in college so I trust her taste in movies – and I was immediately intrigued. Set in Wellington, New Zealand (coincidentally where one of my best friends lives) What We Do in The Shadows focuses on four vampires, Viago, Vladislav, Deacon and Petyr, who share a flat together and have agreed to be filmed by the human camera crew who are protected by wearing crucifixes and have the vampires’ word that they won’t eat them. I can’t say I’d be so trusting, but there you go.
Viago, Vlad and Deacon are relatively young in comparison to the more Nosferatu-like Petyr, who is kept in the basement and looked after by his other flatmates. Their lives consist of sharing chores (occasionally, in Deacon’s case), going out on the town to hunt and have fun, and enjoying their hobbies of music and knitting. Things change however, when Deacon’s very patient familiar/servant Jackie brings over a few humans for the vampires to feast on and the night ends in one of them, Nick, being turned into a vampire himself. As he is welcomed into their company, Nick takes it upon himself to bring his new friends into the 21st century with technology as he adapts to his new undead life – however, he’s not exactly subtle with his new status, which brings trouble to the group’s doorstep.
If you’re a fan of Flight of the Conchords, you’ll recognise Jemaine Clement as Vladislav ‘the Poker’ (who co-wrote and directed with Taika Waititi, who plays the delightful and sweet Viago) as well as an appearance from Rhys Darby too. The humour is very similar to Conchords as well, which should be good news for fans of the quirky Kiwi show. The characters are all likeable in their own ways and the development over the film is very believable too – especially when Nick’s lovely red-cheeked human friend Stu is introduced. Even the darkest moments are lit up with the wonderful sense of humour that runs throughout the entire thing. Then of course, there’s the Spinal Tap feel of the film, it’s funny yet feels genuine and very real. The practical special effects add to that I feel, from the copious amounts of blood to the way the vampires float and fly – in a world where CGI has become the standard for creating effects, it’s a treat to see something more tangible.
My absolute favourite part of What We Do in The Shadows? Viago. He manages to be an adorable cinnamon roll of loveliness as well as a vampire who feast on blood – there’s no gold-eyed vegetarianism here, and yet even covered in blood, gingerly holding a tea towel, Viago is the most wonderful vampire in modern fiction. Just take one look at that adorable little smile and tell me you wouldn’t let him drain you dry. I’d even put down the towels and newspapers for him. (Bonus points go to Clement’s Vladislav, who is somehow oddly sexy in this role.)
I cannot find a single fault with this film. I’ve watched it four times since I got it, and I’ve recommended it to pretty much every friend I’ve had the chance to – you’ll find yourself feeling good after watching it. Which is more than could be said for the feeling I had after watching New Moon. Urgh.
Claire is a foul-mouthed British twenty-something who spends most of her time pretending to be an adult. Her nerd status started from an early age with her dad’s love of sci-fi and developed through a love of gaming, reading and horror. As well as volunteering for a charity, Claire writes about her life with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and mental health over at her blog, as well as tweeting nonsense over as @MouthAndSpoons. The dream is to either make it as a successful writer, or go into mental health research. She lives at home with her equally nerdy husband, their dog Lady, cat Pip and a lot of fish.