Vampires, vampires everywhere, and not a drop to drink. One of the tragedies of the modern world is there's nowhere left to find regular old vampires with solid, old-fashioned values -- except, maybe, New Zealand. That's the setting for Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi's buoyant little bloodsucker comedy What We Do in the Shadows. Four vampire dudes ranging in age from 183 to 8,000 share a house, dividing chores in a way that seems fair, though there are always going to be bloody dishes in the sink. You might call this Real World: Transylvania, except in Wellington. The affably neurotic Viago (Waititi) is the hopeless romantic of the group, having followed a young woman to New Zealand in the early part of the 20th century only to be jilted. (In fairness to the lady, Viago's servant delayed his master's arrival by putting the wrong postage on the coffin, and she got sick of waiting.)
Vladislav (played by Clement, of Flight of the Conchords fame) is the rake, fond of orgies and boasting a long history of skewering people with sharp implements. "They used to call me Vladislav the Poker," he says with cheerful modesty. When the four guys get ready to go out on the prowl -- a typical evening consists of some desultory dancing in a rundown old bar -- they turn to one another for fashion advice. No mirrors for them, so they rely on each other to discern what pants go with which jacket. What We Do in the Shadows is never as self-conscious as you fear it might be, and it has some of the loose, wiggy energy of early Jim Jarmusch, only with more bite. It makes getting poked a pleasure.
Ten years ago, Wellington, New Zealand, was less welcoming of vampires. When Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, two unknown comedians, walked the streets in velvet frocks and ruffles for a 2005 sketch, dudes would drive by and scream homophobic slurs. Says Clement, "We were constantly abused." Over the next decade,...
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