‘What We Do in the Shadows’ excels with its goofy take on the undead
By Jonathan Pabico, Contributor
Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement surprised us with their fresh approach to the vampire genre. Their satirical comedy movie, What We Do in the Shadows, has a television adaptation that continues the story with new vampires Laszlo (Matt Berry), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), and Nandor (Kayvan Novak). They live their weird private lives at their gothic residence. The premiere has worthwhile laughs and memorable performances from its cast that make the story highly accessible for anyone to enjoy, even if you have not seen the original movie.
Berry, Demetriou, and Novak portray their immortal leads as a dysfunctional family with an offbeat chemistry that has improved since season one. Their gothic costumes balance with the murky atmosphere from the sets, evoking a dreadful tone which perfectly clashes with the buffoonery and immaturity of the characters. This elevates the satire while also subverting expectations of its viewers.
The show is filmed like a documentary—including quirky interviews and awkward camera shots observing the strange lifestyle of the vampires. The quick pans edited with sudden zoom–ins and zoom–outs create an unconventional visual style. Furthermore, the episode accentuates banter from dialogue scenes by barely featuring any music during these moments—much like The Office and Modern Family.
The episode excels with its unapologetic satire about vampires. Even their horrific culture and unusual history benefits character development and creates comedy through their goofy normalization of the topic. Macabre imagery is played for running gags, while the story’s self-aware antics poke fun at popular vampire tropes. From this hilarity rises the main theme of how important it is to remain connected to our roots, regardless of how strange and different it is to others.
One shortcoming of the episode is that the editing structures the opening as a montage of unpacking what characters were up to between seasons. The brief exposition from the start benefits from the deadpan humour, but the beginning intro abruptly cuts between set pieces. Another problem is Colin (Mark Proksch), who is an energy vampire that feeds on people’s joys rather than blood. This supporting character could have been omitted entirely because, like in season one, he remains an unnecessary source of comic relief.
Overall, the premiere of season two of What We Do in the Shadows offers satisfying laughs. The show easily settles you into its world of childish vampires through its unfailing humour. If you enjoy a good comedy horror, then this episode may just be the right fit for your evenings.