Thursday, 22 January 2015

What We Do in the Shadows.

Every few years a Secret Society in New Zealand gathers for a special event: The Unholy Masquerade. In the months leading up to the ball, a documentary crew was granted full access to a small group of this Society. Each crewmember had to wear a crucifix and was granted protection by the subjects of the film.   In 2012, New Zealand's best well-known documentarians, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi teamed up to follow this small group of Wellington-based Vampires. Yes, actual vampires. Real ones!
The 8000 year old Petyr.
The resulting documentary is a raw, unflinching look at the lives of the undead community, with no stone left unturned; from hunting victims and draining them of their blood to more mundane activities like paying rent and keeping the house tidy we learn interesting facts like vampires don’t do dishes. What We Do in the Shadows (2014) documents the struggles of four undead friends originally from Central Europe who flat share. Narrated by Viago the dandy of the group who is 379-year’s young who introduces us to the others. The oldest and senior member of the group is the misanthropist 8000-year-old Petyr who could have easily been the template for Count Orlok seen in F W Murnau’s 1922 German expressionist horror movie Nosferatu. Next we have Viadislav an 862-year-old sexual pervert and lady-killer and then we are introduced to the bad boy of the group Deacon who is a modest 183 years old and one of Hitler’s ex-Nazi vampire squad. Featured in the documentary are Deacon’s human servant Jackie who runs errands and cleans up victim’s blood and body parts for the vampires, helping to keep some resemblance of order to the flat, and the IT wiz kid Stu who inhabits a central role in the film as a human who our vampires have taken a liking too and have agreed not to eat, proving that although vampires primarily kill people to survive they are still kind of likable?

The bad boy of the group Deacon doing what no vampire should be forced to do!

This significantly unique documentary examines the fears, hopes and dreams of the undead and asks the question that we have all been meaning to ask a vampire – if your heart has stopped are you really dead, really really dead? I’m sure that all who see this marvelously   dark and strikingly humorous documentary will agree its wonderful to see how these people have adapted to modern life.  I’ll end with a comment from one of the documentary makers Taika Waititi I always liked the idea that vampires were a metaphor for marginalised groups; immigrants, homosexuals, anyone who’s had to live in the shadows of society.’  It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014 and if you only ever see one documentary make sure it’s this one.

The documentary makers.

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