Here at Under the Radar, one of our primary missions is to write about how Hollywood portrays the military in movies and TV. We also aim to uncover those rare films that stand up to the kind of endless repeated viewing so beloved and necessary to readers stationed far from home, the kind of movies that get funnier every time you watch and offer an endless supply of catchphrases (i.e. Will Farrell on a good day: Anchorman, Old School, Talladega Nights). What We Do in the Shadows is a complete winner on that front.
The movie was written and directed by New Zealand comics Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. You may know Jemaine from HBO’s Flight of the Conchords or from impersonating an Australian in Outback Steakhouse commercials back in the mid-2000s. You definitely know him as the voice of the horse in those new DirecTV commercials with model Hannah Davis. Taiki was Jemaine’s original onstage partner and has worked with him in recent years, writing and directing the movie Eagle vs. Shark and an episode of Conchords.
What We Do in the Shadows is a fake documentary about four vampires who share a house in New Zealand and their attempts to adapt to the modern world. They struggle with paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs and overcoming flatmate conflicts. There’s also a group of rival werewolves, led by Rhys Darby (who played manager Murray on Conchords).
The movie manages to send up reality TV and modern romantic vampire movies at the same time, but it’s funny even if you don’t care about either of those genres. There’s a lot of blood but the violence is silly rather than traumatic.
The move barely played in U.S. theaters (Clement ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to rent a few theaters) but it immediately started to find an audience on-demand. You can buy or rent the film on iTunes, Vudu or Google Play or pick up a Blu-ray that includes a wealth of bonus material, including a commentary track from Clement and Waititi, a making-of documentary, deleted scenes and interviews with the cast. Unfortunately, there’s no digital version included with the Blu-ray.
I won’t spoil all the potential catchphrases here, but I will note that, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard two different people respond to a friend’s cursing with the phrase, “Hey, we’re werewolves not swearwolves!” Check this one out. It’s the funniest movie I’ve seen all year.