Midnight Madness Report: What We Do In The Shadows
New Zealand might be known for its orcs and elves, but Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement are determined to add vampires to the country’s cast of notable creatures. Together, they co-direct and star in What We Do in the Shadows, which premiered at Midnight Madness, and thankfully, it was no three-hour epic. Instead, the film is a mockumentary about a group of vampires who live together in the New Zealand suburb of Wellington; a comedic adventure that packs its laughs in a mere 85 minutes.
Following friends Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav, documentarians capture the mundane problems of living with roommates alongside more complex issues for vampires like adjusting to modern-day technologies and society. Things are further complicated when a newly-bitten addition, Nick, invites a human into the circle and causes chaos with his vampire naïveté.
The audience roared with laughter with every punchline and it was evident that fans of Clement’s notable TV series and band, Flight of the Conchords, were present. Cheers even erupted for New Zealander and Flight of the Conchords star Rhys Darby when he appears as the leader of a pack of nerdy wolves whose motto is “werewolves not swearwolves.”
Audience members couldn’t contain their fandom as one later asked Clement if she could rap the song, “Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros” with him (his reply was, “Later…”) and another asked if there was thought of adding a musical number to What We Do In The Shadows. “Well, that just wouldn’t work for a documentary,” Clement points out.
What We Do in the Shadows stands on its own, though, as one of Clement’s best works yet. The film cleverly blends genre lines, injecting humour into vampire mythology while spraying blood all over the style of documentaries. Clement revealed his love of vampires, adding in the Q&A afterwards that he started a gang as a teen called The Vampires. “We wore plastic fangs and scared girls,” he says. He even adds a tidbit that ties him to New Zealand’s most famous film export, the Lord of the Rings series, explaining that their make-up artist probably used discarded elf parts to create the costume of the film’s oldest character, Petyr. Clement adds, “He was probably wearing elf ears.”