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What We Do in the Shadows (2015) – Review

When done correctly, improvisation-laden mockumentary could be an exhilarating gem – This is Spinal Tap is an awesome example. That alone combined with NZ taste of horror – as seen in Peter Jackson’s Braindead or last year’s horror-gem Housebound – promise an ultra-hilarious masterpiece which gives much clever laugh and/or guilty pleasure.

What We Do in the Shadows is an example of such combination – mixing up horror with black comedy in a This is Spinal Tap way of mockumentary. From the maker of HBO comedy Flight of the Conchords, Jemaine Clement, and Oscar nominee Taika Waititi, What We Do in the Shadows is a breakthrough in the heyday of modern vampire folks. Cold, damp, but also fresh at once, it’s definitely a vampire flick like never before. what-we-do-in-the-shadows-01A fictional documentary crew tails quartet of vampires living in a flat in suburb of Wellington. Among them is Viago (Waititi), a friendly vampire who acts like a mother (?); Vladislav (Clement) – a Dracula-esque vampire; Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) – a younger one, who is kinda narcissistic, and Petyr (Ben Fransham) – a Count Orlock-esque who barely talks and spends time inside his underground coffin. Along with interviews like a real documentary, What We Do in the Shadows follows the daily life of those vampires to spend their eternity with tons of ridiculous wackiness.

Those quartet alone is enough to cast troubling laughter; things gets worse when their expected victim, hipster Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), turned into vampire and starts to hang out with them. Then, there’s a story of acceptance and, most importantly, friendship in sweet, cold way like the old romantic Dracula.

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All vampire lore and gimmicks are exploited in dozens of hilarious ways, e.g, how they cannot see their own reflections in mirror so they need to trust each other’s drawings, or how they need to get invited into some bars, etc. Indeed, those gimmicks aren’t original, but Waititi dan Clements give an original treatment to make them laughable.

While its fangs bite deep with great humor and clever direction, What We Do in the Shadows is establishing itself among the best comedy of the year, and simply, among the best vampire movies in the few years. Who would have thought that being vampire can be this sweet and hilarious at once?

What We Do in the Shadows (2015)

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Horror, Comedy Written & Directed by: Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement Starred by: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jonny Brugh, Ben FranshamCori Gonzalez-Macuer Runtime: 86 mins Rated R

IMDb | Official Site


Di tangan yang tepat, mockumentary penuh improvisasi bisa jadi sebuah mahakarya—This is Spinal Tap contohnya. Jika dikombinasikan dengan selera humor dan horror NZ —seperti Braindead atau Housebound—hasilnya tentu lebih konyol lagi, mengundang lebih banyak tawa lagi.

What We Do in the Shadows adalah contohnya: kombinasi epik antara horror gaya vampir degan mockumentary a la This is Spinal Tap. Digawangi oleh sutradara komedi HBO, Flight of the Conchords, dan nominee Oscar, Taika Waititi, film ini adalah pendobrak genre film vampir modern. Dingin, lembab, sekaligus segar dalam menampilkan kisah vampir yang belum pernah ada sebelumnya.

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Kru film fiksi berusaha mendokumentasikan kegiatan kuartet vampir yang tinggal di sebuah flat di pinggiran Wellington. Di antaranya ada Viago (Waititi), vampir paling ramah; Vladislav (Clement), vampir bergaya Drakula yang sudah kehilangan tajinya; Deacon (Brugh), vampir narsis yang paling muda di antara kuartet ini; serta Petyr (Fransham), vampir bergaya Count Orlock yang jarang bicara dan lebih sering menghabiskan waktu di petinya. Tentu saja kegiatan sehari-hari vampir berbeda dengan manusia, di situlah kekonyolan What We Do in the Shadows dieksploitasi maksimal.

Kekonyolan memuncak ketika Nick (Gonzalez-Macuer), hipster yang harusnya jadi santap malam mereka malah berubah menjadi vampir dan mulai hangout dengan mereka. Nick bukan hanya terlampau modern bagi keempat rekan vampirnya, tapi juga terlalu urakan. Di sinilah kekonyolan film ini mulai bercampur dengan drama penerimaan diri serta persahabatan yang manis namun dingin bagaikan kisah romansa Dracula.

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Segala macam lore dan gimmick tradisional tentang vampir dieksploitasi habis-habisan untuk menguras tawa dan guilty pleasure. Kearifan lokal vampir—seperti vampir tidak bisa melihat bayangannya sendiri sehingga perlu mempercayai gambaran tangan temannya untuk berdandan atau bagaimana para vampir memaksa penjaga bar untuk mempersilahkan mereka masuk—seperti itulah yang membuat film ini sangat segar meskipun tidak terlalu original. Justru pengolahan Waititi dan Clement terhadap ke-tidak original-an itulah yang membuat film ini makin mengesankan.

Jelas, What We Do in the Shadows telah menancapkan taringnya sebagai salah satu komedi paling keren tahun ini, bahkan sebagai salah satu film vampir paling beda dalam beberapa tahun belakang. Siapa sangka vampir bisa mengundang tawa?


What We Do in the Shadows movie review in this blog is written by Paskalis Damar. Review film What We Do in the Shadows diterjemahkan ke dalam Bahasa Indonesia oleh Paskalis Damar.

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