Wednesday, June 19, 2019

What we do in the Shadows – season 1 – review

Director: Various

Release date: 2019

Contains spoilers

Taking its cue from other mockumentary films in which vampires have been followed by a film-crew going about their day to day lives, What we do in the Shadows (2014) was a solid vampire film, with a firm grasp of the genre and a joy to watch, being a genuinely funny comedy.

It is unsurprising, though welcome, that it has spawned a spin-off TV series. Same universe, same premise (a film-crew following vampires) but a new group of vampires and a new location – the series relocating from New Zealand to Staten Island.

main cast
Our vampires are Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo Cravensworth (Matt Berry, Snow White and the Huntsman) and his wife Nadja (Natasia Demetriou). A further vampire in the household is energy vampire Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) and Nandor’s familiar Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) is also resident. Their lives are turned upside down when an ancient vampire, Baron Afanas (Doug Jones, Universal Dead, Hocus Pocus, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron & Night Angel), comes to stay and wishes to know why they haven’t claimed dominion over the New World.

Laszlo, Nadja and Nandor
The show, like the movie, has a genuine love of the genre – poking fun but in a knowing way that works really well. We get another werewolf pack, and a neat way of duelling them, erotic topiary and Laszlo having to shout bat when he transforms into one, a vampire orgy and Colin almost meeting his match with an emotional vampire (Vanessa Bayer). Through Guillermo we discover the frustration of being a familiar, waiting for his master to turn him (and also some nice comedy moments with him as with the vampires).

council members
The episode to mention, however, is 7: the Trial, that sees the vampires brought before the vampire council and, having first met vampire criminals Garrett (Dave Bautista) and Vasilika the Defiler (Alexandra Henrikson), it becomes a who’s who of guest stars from the vampire genre. Firstly Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement and Jonny Brugh reprise their characters from the What we do in the Shadows movie. All the other council members we meet are named for their actor so Tilda is played by Tilda Swinton (Only Lovers Left Alive) and we also get Evan Rachel Wood (True Blood), Danny Trejo, Paul Reubens (Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992 – the movie)) and by skype the daywalking Wesley Snipes (Blade, Blade 2 & Blade Trinity). It’s a smorgasbord of screen vampire fun and underlines that this revels in the genre it spoofs. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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