Scoop review by Sven Solen
Vellingtonians young and old descended on the Embassy last night for the hometown premiere of the vampire infused movie What We Do In The Shadows.
Having entered from the sidewalk via a blood inspired ‘red carpet’ unlike any other, the consensus from the capital’s cognoscenti was that creators Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement had delivered a gently absurdist movie unlike any other.
This reviewer can attest to the unexpectedly hypnotising effect and oddly genre-defying nature of What We Do In The Shadows. Veering at the outset from vignettes of the every-night flat-inhabiting habits of the four central characters, across their milennium long histories and into their flighty ventures as denizens of Vellington, it could have gone all horribly wrong.
Yet instead of feeling stitched together, the mock-doco technique took on a life of its own and had people in stitches at the unconceited conception of it all. No call on anyone to suspend belief, no over the top SFX, no contrary plotlines to drive you bats, no product placement (does canned spaghetti count?), no pressure to do anything but be as laidback as a coffin.
What a treat for capital city citizens to see their city, and some quintessential New Zealand traits, held up to a mirror long enough for the gag to be on us. For a moment that was us in the back seats of a GO Wellington bus, or us struggling hilariously with social media interaction, or reflecting obliquely on the inequalities of housekeeping, or contending with troublesome relationships that go on – in this case, century after century.
And that could have been us, introduced as the Karori Zombies for instance, enjoying a night out with our fellow freaks before returning to our graveyard suburb.
For a labour of love that was apocryphally overshot, acted out minus the script (most probably now held under lock and key in the vaults of the NZ Documentary Board), and made on the sniff of a smouldering vampire, it might be a mistake to credit the transference of too much existential philosophical content on to the screen – or perhaps not.
Foibles and fidelity of humans certainly feature (along with, it must be said, some great PR for the NZ Police force).
Character Jackie’s strong determination to put her best neck forward to master her own destiny served up one odd form of parable, and Stuart the meek IT guy personified the fundamentals of lasting friendship.
Last but not least, the motif of the love story of Taika’s character Viago, 379 years old, and the woman who drew him down under, should give optimism to a persistent underlying notion of undying romantics that true love never passes.