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WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS gets 8.5/10 Drains the laughter out of you


Created by Jemaine Clement, Josh Lieb, Paul Simms, Taika Waititi, Jason Woliner

Starring Kayvan Novak, Harvey Guillen, Natasha Demetriou, Matt Berry, Mark Proksch

8.5/10

When I saw the cult film What We Do In The Shadows (2014), I immediately fell in love with it. Although initially put off by the vampire theme, having grown up alongside the Twilight Saga and being passionately team fuck anything Twilight, the film was refreshingly sidesplitting and memorable. A mockumentary-style depiction of a group of modern-day vampires living together in a share house, I really wanted a sequel made, but the show’s creators, Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Boy) have done one better: a spinoff TV series. What makes this show work so well is that it stays true to the film’s best qualities, while still succeeding in expanding and innovating its universe, making the show stand apart from its source material.

Jemaine Clement’s adaptation sees four Vampires, Nandor (Kayvan Novak, Four Lions), Laszlo (Matt Berry, IT Crowd), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) and Colin (Mark Proksch, The Office: US) and a human, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), living together in present day Staten Island. The show opens to the group receiving a letter from ‘The Baron’ (Doug Jones, The Shape Of Water), their vampire overlord, stating that he is coming to stay with them to see how the vampire domination of North America is going. While it becomes clear that the main characters lack the ability to dominate the third largest continent, they for sure make up for it with their relentless narcissism and a deep lack of knowledge of the human world.

The central characters mesh quite well together, of course, aided by the film’s director, Taika Waititi’s direction in the pilot episode, and the clever evolution of the malleable universe WWDITS exists in. A standout is Colin, an ‘energy’ draining vampire whose powers include feeding off of humans through merely talking to them until they are bored out of their minds, draining them of their energy (I’m sure we all know one of these). As expected, Matt Berry’s performance is an absolute cracker. His character’s wife, Nadja, who turned him into a creature of the night, is as entertaining as she is horny, a quality she shares with her partner. Dare I say, as I continue watching their relationship unfold, they would contend with any couple on MAFS for most dysfunctional – and intriguing.

The truly comedic moments in this unique blend of horror, comedy and fantasy arise from the stark contrast between what would be seemingly banal situations everyday housemates would find themselves in, such as arguing about keeping the noise down at night. However, juxtaposed against an argument between these protagonists, there is a squabble straight off of the bat (no pun intended) about half-drunk humans in the underground cell making noise all night – and I don’t mean that these humans were up all night sinking tins of Furphy, they were literally half-drunk (missing a few pints thanks to the bloodsuckers, rather than have a few drinks in them). Never the less this makes the show bizarrely relatable.

WWDITS does not skip on the gruesomeness that is common with vampires – they are murderous cannibals of course. When the house is making another everyday decision on what to get for dinner to impress their guest, The Baron, they decide on – you guessed it – virgins! The job of luring the virgins to the house is Guillermo’s, Nandor’s familiar (a familiar being a vampire’s slave in hopes of being given immortality by their vampire). In another scene, when we meet ‘The Baron’, he promptly lunges at the closest human’s jugular to feast on, spraying blood all over the wall. While these scenes were confronting to watch, they do seem to perfectly complement the humour of the show, keeping you on your toes.

It will be interesting to see if WWDITS can keep this momentum going as the first season continues to air weekly on FX. It will not surprise if this show continues to get better and better with the talent behind the project and more zany creatures sure to be right around the corner. A must watch for anyone with a funnybone.

SHAQUILLE STIRLING

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