‘Shadows’ brings new blood to vampire parody

Tom Long
The Detroit News

If you think vampire parodies have been done to death, well, they have. But the laugh-aloud funny “What We Do in the Shadows” brings new blood to the genre.

That blood would most notably belong to writer-director-stars Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, the New Zealanders responsible for film gems like “Eagle vs. Shark” and “Boy” and the HBO series “Flight of the Conchords.” Maybe it’s something in the water Down Under, but these fellows have managed to concoct a whole new perspective on fangsters.

In “Shadows,” four vampires share a home in Wellington. Waititi plays Viago, something of a prissy dandy; Clement is the dynamic Vlad. Living — or more accurately, dying — with them are Deacon (Jonny Brugh), a rowdy, comparatively young vampire, and Petyr (Ben Fransham), an 8,000-year-old bald fellow whose yellow teeth erupt from his mouth.

As with any roomies, there are problems. That huge pile of bloody dishes by the sink, for one, is proof that Deacon isn’t pulling his weight with household chores. And that couch wasn’t originally red — people have to learn to clean up their messes. Viago suggests laying out newspapers before eating someone.

The gang’s problems grow bigger when Petyr turns one night’s meal — a fellow named Nick (Cory Gonzalez Macuer) — into a vamp. Now the group has to teach Nick — who has an unfortunate tendency to brag about being undead and loves to try out his new flying skills — how to behave.

The jokes come rat-a-tat much of the time, but Waititi and Clement also wisely let the film breathe in intervals, and the addition of a timid human sidekick, Stu (Stu Rutherford) offers some hilarious counterpoint moments. As a result, “Shadows” could draw laughter from a zombie.



‘What We Do in the Shadows’


Not rated

Running time: 86 minutes