Co-director Waititi brings a whimsical edge to proceedings, reminiscent to that of his debut Eagle vs Shark (2007), but this time juxtaposing a theatrical Gothic atmosphere with the grounded, colloquial charms of New Zealand. Together with his creative collaborator Clement (giving a predictably hilarious turn on screen) the duo craft their humour from an exhaustive list mined from vampiric folklore, even pulling from pop references (there’s a fun Lost Boys (1987) mind control gag which the housemates freely admit to stealing from that film). What prevents the results from feeling like a series of skits bundled into 90 minutes is the attempt to give each vampire a character arc and by introducing conflict into the group with the arrival of Nick, a newly turned creature of the night who really struggles to settle into his new life. But for all the imagination stuffed into the scenario, it's ultimately the skilled performers who make the material fly. What We Do in the Shadows could easily have descended into a one-joke film, but is instead a fresh addition to this overstuffed sub-genre.
Adam Lowes | @adlow76