Improv in movies can be both good and bad. Sometimes it weighs down the plot of the film. But it can also add a stronger element of comedy and originality than scripted films. “What We Do In the Shadows”, thankfully, is elevated by its improv to often hilarious results.
With over 120 hours shot, the film is condensed into a mockumentary narrative following vampires living together in New Zealand. Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), Viago (Taika Waititi) and Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) are hundreds of years old, living in a flat, trying to manage the new world around them. When a recently-turned vampire, Petyr (Ben Fransham), joins them and brings along his human friend Stu (Stu Rutherford), things become rocky for the group.
Looking at vampires in a real life situation brings humor to a genre that has otherwise been done to death (pun intended). No one really thinks about how hard it is for a vampire to dress himself since he can’t see his reflection. Or how vampires can’t eat anything other than blood. The results are hilarious.
The film starts to peter out a bit near the second half of act two, but picks back up again for the finale. And as with most comedy films, some jokes work, some don’t. But overall, it is the kind of film that audiences will look back on fondly, a film created to be a cult classic; well made, but at the same time just so strange.