Released in 2014, this comedy horror film is fly-on-the-wall mockumentary following the exploits of 4 modern day vampires living together as flatmates in the New Zealand town of Wellington. It was released fairly ‘under the radar’ but went on to receive lots of world-wide praise for how original and funny it is.
Brief Summary: Four vampires living in New Zealand going about their day-to-day life.
Detailed Summary: Viago, Deacon, Vladislav and Petyr are vampiric housemates who live together in New Zealand. They live fairly normal and mundane lives, doing chores, paying rent, and occasionally going out to nightclubs. One night, one of their meals is not killed properly and is turned into a vampire too. Nick, a modern twenty-something year old, is irresponsible of his new vampiric powers and goes as far as inviting his human friend into the arrangement, a bit of a no-no in the world of the undead. As events develop the vampire friends have to deal with their life while working with the new circumstances that have arisen.
Film Stuff: Directed, written, and starring Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi this 2014 film is more a labour of love and art, rather than a piece of work that was meant to be a blockbuster smash. Made with a budget of around $1.6 million this 86 minute film went on to gross $7 million at the global box office, so it’s not necessarily just a bit of a laugh, some serious work went into this to make it a success. The concept of the film was developed using a short film in 2005 (“What we do in the Shadows: Interviews with some Vampires“) as a litmus test. Music in this film comes from Plan 9, with Russian rock band Leningrad providing a song for the trailer and the end credits. The success of the film led to various spin-off TV series; in New Zealand “Wellington Paranormal“, and TV series with the films title in the USA and UK. With some excellent, low-budget effects, fun make-up and costumes this is film really has a unique look and feel.
Cast: At the top of the billing are Jemaine Clement and Taiki Waititi as Vladislav “The Poker” (based on Gary Oldman’s performance in “Bram Stokers Dracula“, and Viago “The Dandy” (based on Louis de Pointe du Lac from “Interview with a Vampire” – both are hilarious in their respective roles. They really lead the cast well and drive the film forward smartly. The bad boy of the group is Deacon (Jonny Brugh) who plays a great role as the ex-Nazi vampire experiment (based on David from “The Lost Boys” (1987)). Ben Fransham plays the dark horse of the group, Petyr (based on Count Orlok from “Nosferatu“), a character that is hundred of years old and easily the old man of the group and therefor the least human of the group. Nick and Stu (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer and Stu Rutherford) are the newcomers to the nest and do well (Nick being reminiscent of Edward from “Twilight“). Rhys Darby pops up leading a pack of Werewolves, he is good light relief to the seriousness of the Vampire chronicles. There are also plenty of other great performances in the film from other Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies and even the living humans too.
Wrap-up: I enjoyed this original mockumentary film and had a good laugh throughout. It is not a lengthy film and combined with some good editing this film never feels like it is dragging. There is a fun look and feel to the film which I really enjoyed. The effects were wobbly and shaky and worked well – lots of fake blood plenty of high wire flying. At times, the humour is laugh out loud ridiculous, while other times it is absolutely sterile deadpan; both of which suit the film really well. The film does not take itself too seriously at all and provides some good nostalgia to fans of vampire and supernatural films. Expect to see references to “Nosferatu“, “The Lost Boys” (1987), “Twilight“, “Dracula“, “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), “Blade” (1998), “Buffy the Vampire Slayer“, and so many more horror and supernatural staples of film. I read a review describing this film as the “Spinal Tap” of the vampire documentary films and that is quite an apt description. It is “The Office” meets “Flight of the Conchords” meets “Being Human” and most importantly, it is a damn fine film.
Go into this with no expectations and you will be delights. It is probably not a family film despite its 15-rating due to the graphic nature of some of the horror – even though it is hilarious. Fresh, funny, strange but entertaining, this film is sure to be cult film for many years to come.