By Jonathon Sharp

Only have patience for one vampire movie in 2015? Make it this weird, silly, pitch-perfect mockumentary from New Zealand. What We Do In The Shadows, created by one of the minds behind Flight of the Conchords, has big laughs before the opening credits roll, and it goes on to take vampiric tropes, place them in a modern Wellington cityscape, and twist them into wonderful B-movie jokes.

Often, they just flutter by, allowing you the pleasure of catching them before bursting into laughter. Other times, the humor just erupts, with jets of fake, syrupy blood. What makes it all so effective is the movie’s tone. Directors Jemaine Clement (the deep-voiced half of the Conchords duo) and Taika Waititi nail the film-crew-follows-fringe-society vibe. The two also wrote the movie, and play two of its leading characters. They’re part of a group of vampires that live together as roommates.

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Clement appears as Vladislav, a medieval badass described as “a bit of a pervert.” Waititi, on the other hand, is the 18th Century dandy Viago, who lays out newspaper before devouring his victims on the couch. Being somewhat of a neatfreak, he chides the devil-may-care young vampire Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) for his not doing the dishes in five years. In the basement, in a stone coffin surrounded by human remains, is the ancient Petyr. He’s basically Nosferatu.

From a film crew’s viewpoint, the vampires’ lives are documented leading up to the annual Unholy Masquerade. The fanged protagonists go about their daily lives, commanding human minions and showing the camera how they ensnare their victims. But when they happen to turn one 20-something guy into a creature of the night, he gives them a crash course in modern life (text messages, eBay) before telling the entire city that he’s straight out of Twilight. That gets him in lots of trouble.

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Run-ins with werewolves ensue, Vladislav encounters his archenemy, The Beast, and Deacon ends up giving a strangely eloquent speech on the frailty of human existence and the threat posed by ducks. At times, the comedy threatens to run out of steam, but the vampire gags, which play so cleverly with classical vampire myths, are timed expertly. And although Clement is far more recognizable to American audiences, he doesn’t take over the film. The performances of Brugh and Waititi are just as strong, if not more memorable.

Note: If what described above sounds up your alley, don’t watch the trailer. Although I’ve attached it above for convenience, it contains, I feel, too many jokes that would be a lot funnier if seen as part of the film as a whole. Just buy a ticket, and see the movie.

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What We Do In The Shadows is playing at the Lagoon Cinema.

Jonathon Sharp