What’s the strongest sign that pop culture has become too saturated by a specific movie genre? When that genre becomes the subject of unapologetically silly works of satire. Case in point: vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, a recent favorite from this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The first trailer for the movie, seen above, doesn’t directly reference the glut of television and cinema catered toward the fanged bloodsuckers of legend, mind, but it’s hard not to watch without making assumptions about authorial intent.
The film comes to us courtesy of New Zealand talents Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. Their names may be better-recognized in the States for their work on such TV projects as Flight of the Conchords and Eagle vs Shark, as well as their respective roles in movies ranging from Men in Black 3 to Green Lantern and Muppets Most Wanted; they also made the short film that supplies the basis for What We Do in the Shadow together back in 2006, long before Twilight became a worldwide box office colossus and True Blood aired on HBO.
Maybe the sudden influx of vampire fare has inspired them to return to their eight-year-old story and flesh it out to feature-length; maybe they just really liked their characters and wanted to revisit them. Either way, What We Do in the Shadows looks like a hilarious send-up of the vampire mythos, revolving around a house inhabited by three creatures of the night: Viago (Waititi), Vladislav (Clement), and Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), each aged by centuries, some more than others.
But just like human beings, putting a bunch of vampires under one roof can lead to tensions, conflicts, and all other manner of domestic scuffles, and What We Do in the Shadows seeks to document just how mundane an eternal life lived in the darkness can really be. In contrast to, say, the Bohemian lugubriousness of Jim Jarmusch’s excellent Only Lovers Left Alive, we get to watch this trio of vamps engage in everyday household chores from vacuuming to washing the dishes (assuming anyone gets around to it).
As anyone might expect from Clement and Waitiki, the results look relentlessly absurd. Forget about the world-changing implications of Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming The Strain, or the Gothic flourishes of Penny Dreadful; What We Do in the Shadows looks like it’s going for the throat with as much sheer bloody ridiculousness as possible – bad roommates, run-ins with werewolves, encounters with vampire hunters, and the vicissitudes of vampirism. Can you imagine having to be invited into a club?
The film doesn’t have a release date – the trailer only ends with an ominous “coming soon” tag. Hopefully, What We Do in the Shadows gets proper distribution; if the Sundance crowd is accurate, this is an indie well worth catching.
We’ll keep you updated on What We Do in the Shadows‘ release date as it becomes available.
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