Samstag, 11. Oktober 2014

What We Do in the Shadows

New Zealander writer/director duo Jemaine Clement/Taika Waititi's vampire mocumentary "What We Do in the Shadows" is, as the unanimous blurb concert on its poster suggests, indeed hilarious. It represents the kind of grassroots, idea-centric comedy that proves winning not in spite of its logistical limitations but beause of them.

Shot through the lens of a documentary crew granted exclusive access to the life of four flat-sharing vampires in Wellington, things look makeshift and soberly unpolished from the first frame. When one of the tenants flies out from his coffin by way of some rudimentary wirework and starts introducing his flatmates with the bubbly excitement of someone not used to media attention, you might groan at the by now overused faux-realistic/found-footage style of filmmaking and ask how much longer the gimmick is going to last. In this case, however, the approach turns out to be in itself the source of comedy as it cleverly puts the myths of the bloodsucking immortals in the context of modern-day life and the hilarity from all the incongruence takes care of itself.

With the seriousness of a news team and the earnestness of people trying to be informative/entertaining on camera, the film takes us through the unexpected troubles and challenges the undead might face today. The scenarios are smartly conceived brimming with a dry, diabolic humor. The jokes keep coming but they feel organic, spontaneous, almost careless in their telling. The calculated air of strategically placed punchlines and gags commonly experienced by studio pictures is reduced to a minimum. Even though there are a couple of minor rough patches and the abrupt ending can use some bulking up, overall it's a very funny and creatively compelling piece of writing.

The production value is as hinted very modest, with all the effects shots looking somewhat dated and amateurish. But that plays into the whole mocking tone of the film well and stokes with endearing dorkiness even more goodwill. The cast, which includes the two directors, is funny in their matter-of-fact portrayal of vampires of different descents and temperaments. In all, this is a treat for those who like their movies cheekily macabre and don't mind geeky genre sensibility or drab lighting.

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