As movie monsters go, vampires are so over. After Twilight and True Blood pushed bloodsuckers into the sparkling light of the mainstream, vampires zipped through the usual stages of a pop culture phenomenon—sensation, saturation, and parody—until we were ready for (okay, begging for) something new to go bump in the night. And yet What We Do in the Shadows, a clever mockumentary from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), proves that some tropes, like the undead and roommate problems, are eternally funny.
Viago (Waititi), Vladislav (Clement), and Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) are three normal children of the night getting by in modernday New Zealand. The setup, especially in documentary form, is novel enough to make for a brilliant sketch. To that end, the first act flies by on the strength of the gags, such as the roomies helping one another choose outfits before a night out without mirrors, doing the polite thing by putting newspaper down before a kill, and calling a flat meeting about the bloodsoaked dishes. Before long, though, the gags run dry, even after one of their victims (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) becomes immortal and moves in. What ends up carrying the movie is the sweetness of the characters, especially the lovelorn Viago and Stu (Stu Rutherford), the one human the group won’t eat because he’s genuinely just a good dude. B+