Welcome to the first installment of a very special event I hold close to my warm heart. Well, not my heart. My actual heart is dark and gloomy, cold and covered in bug-ridden pustules. No, this one isn’t mine, I just picked this heart out of the human waste pile at the hospital I work at. That’s right! Your very own Manster got his first job working the night shift mopping blood at Creely Sanatorium! What was I talking about? Oh, the MASSACRE MARATHON!!! I got a late start tonight but I have to be fully committed (considering last year I surprised myself and completed my goal of a WHOLE MONTH of movies every night and writing accompanying reviews!) so I feel obligated to stay up all night to finish this premiere post! I must meet the now standard expectation of 31 nights of horror! SO, without further ado (and before I clog the arteries of this paragraph like many parasitic tube worms with more phrases in parentheses) let’s get on with it!
I chose a horror/comedy to kick off the event, mainly because I thought it would be nice to ease into the month on a less serious note and save the intense stuff for later on. What We Do in the Shadows came out of the festival circuit around a year ago and from what I heard kicked some ass and got some laughs. I assumed that the critics weren’t wrong, considering it features my favorite comedic Kiwi prince Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords). He plays a failed vampire version of Vlad the Impaler, alongside his three other vampiric flatmates, who have been living together for literal ages and whose lives (see: deaths) are thrown into upheaval when a newcomer is introduced into the mix.
There are many funny scenes involving classic vampire tropes but most of them are the kind of gags that made me chuckle under my breath or induce a reserved giggle. Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple of great parts that made me burst out loud and most of those had an obscene amount of gore involved, a way to make sure you don’t forget What We Do in the Shadows is still part horror. The oldest vampire, Petyr, modeled after the legendary Nosferatu type of vampire, is another great way they kept just the right amount of scary in the film. Man, was he creepy!
The laughs don’t just end at vampires, however. Between the copious amounts of spraying blood, other beings of the darker side are introduced briefly as we get a glimpse into the dreadfully mundane scenario of a zombie’s social life and the rival gang mentality of the local werewolves. The lycanthropic pack is led by another of the extremely funny actors brought on from Flight of the Conchords, Rhys Darby (Murray). It was great to see him and Clement working together again, if only for a short while.
The practical effects, wire work, and camera tricks all worked well but the small amount of CGI used didn’t impress. I guess the budget didn’t allow more sound tech to be used and I guess it doesn’t matter that much in a movie that doesn’t take itself the least bit serious. Speaking of which, I would have actually been open to even more outrageous bits, maybe even a little absurdity, despite usually seeing it the other way around in this type of film. The funny scenes are a tad too spaced out with some lingering dead time in between. Other than these few gripes, I thought What We Do in the Shadows did a swell job of introducing me to an eccentric band of vampiric brothers from the other side of the moon a.k.a. New Zealand.
4 jugular fountains out of 5