However, What We Do in the Shadows takes two overdone and overtired shticks -- the found footage/documentary genre and the vampire genre and wondrously combines it into something entirely fresh and entertaining. Part of that is undoubtedly because of its lack of pretension. Shadows is more about the relationship of the four decidedly unhip vampires sharing a flat together in New Zealand and takes a mockumentary approach, making an explanation that the participating documentary crew has been granted protection and crucifixes as they garner footage. It includes all the practical questions we might have asked about them given the opportunity -- how do vampires get into night clubs without being invited? How do vampires dress for a night out if they can't see their reflections? Why do they prefer virgin blood?
Shadows takes the best of the mockumentary footage, using interviews to highlight confessions from the flatmates, close zoom-ins to catch delightful reaction shots, and surprisingly high quality footage given its genre. At its heart, however, it's mostly about the misadventures and dynamics between the frilly and matronly dandy vampire Viago (Taika Waititi, who also co-wrote and co-directed this movie), the former master-hypnotist and torturer vampire gone impotent Vladislav (Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame and the other half of the directing/writing duo), self-proclaimed bad boy vampire Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Nosferatu-doppelganger Petyr (Ben Fransham).
The success of Shadows is clearly in the deadpan delivery of its actors and the deft writing, but also the efforts of the creators to ensure its freshness like a same-day delivery fish company. Clocking in at a mere 86 minutes, the movie was edited and pared down from over 120 hours of actual footage -- mostly improvised by the actors. Some of the jokes are dry, some feel more obvious, and some have a surprisingly sweet center.
Do yourself a favor and go see this movie without indulging in the trailer. Critics all over are clearly hailing the movie as "hilarious" and the movie has succeeded in crossing the seas from New Zealand to the US solely on the success of a kickstarter. As the movie obviously culled its best moments from all 120 hours, the trailer also concentrates and culls the creme de la creme of the movie, stealing some of the most rewarding scenes from it. I love comedies that can make me laugh by surprising me, and Shadows is chock full of these clever laughs as long as you don't spoil it for yourself.