hen one speaks to me about cinema of new zealand, a few names come to me, logically, to the spirit, as Peter Jackson, Niki Caro, or Jane Campion, and then a few players also, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Russell Crowe or Sam Neill. Then, in hearing about a comedy vampiric end of this same country and which would have managed to fight your way to the international, as well-received at Sundance last year, I did not resist to my curiosity. A great idea that was taken !

What We Do in the Shadows, directed by Taika Waititi (known more for his Boy, in 2010) and Jemaine Clement, is a gigantic parody that assumes. And it’s good for once ! The film is presented as a set of images shot by a team of documentary filmmakers who spent several months in a secret society of vampires in the heart of Wellington. There is, therefore, Viago (Waititi ), a dandy way to the 18th century. There’s Vladislav (Clement ), valiant despite his 862 years, an obvious reference to Vlad III of Wallachia (1430-1476), aka Vlad the Impaler, aka Count Dracula. There is Deacon (Jonathan Brugh ), the ‘youngster’ of the band, 183 years at the counter, who likes to adopt the attitudes of the bad boy. And finally their mentor at all, a recluse in his tomb, Petyr (Ben Fransham), eight thousand years of age, a true-false Nosferatu to the tunes of Max Schreck (version Murnau), but with the stature of Klaus Kinski (version Herzog).

The film does not conceal absolutely not its inspirations and becomes more enjoyable still. By the way, the large mode of the found footage, which has invaded the screen for the past fifteen years, takes to his rank, with his usual jerking ‘camera-in-the-fist’ [REC], and especially Blair Witch, clear inspiration of a chase scene, rather not bad in a sub-wood. What We Do in the Shadows borrows as well in contemporary films (genre ‘Mockumentary’) as well as milestones classic. I quoted the head of the work of Murnau, I would have been able to talk to Vampyr by Carl Theodor Dreyer, or different adaptations of Dracula, of course.

But then why, why the hell move for this film ? Because it is funny, simply. Here is a first reason and a good one ! Moviegoers found the tribute to the 7th Art they love so much and the fans see their monsters favorites finally out of their castles, dusty to evolve in a universe very, very modern. He must see them, these drinkers of blood, try to connect with ” humans “, the real, in the night clubs of the capital. All the traditional symbols are diverted, of course, the crucifix in the absence of reflection, especially when a newcomer gets into his head to learn these immortals how to use a phone or a computer.

Beyond the derision, What We Do in the Shadows is an amazing breath of fresh air on the market of the vampires, already crowded. First, because it takes it brilliantly in the drift of a society become voyeuse shots of reality tv and programmes, entering ever more intimate life. Even if the tone is good-natured, Waititi and Clement raise real ethical problems for the content to reveal, that always seems to push away. Film the lesser event and share his take on the social networks are now a breeze. But will there be until film of accidents, dead bodies ? Death live for the audience, the naked truth ? It is a safe bet that in 2015, everyone or almost knows that the web is a bottomless pit in this area. Some are even talking about the ‘darknet’, a parallel Internet that the rumor would like people to pedophiles, hackers, and terrorists. In all cases, there is no doubt that the film also asks about his mission at the time of instant communication, wondering if he should even show everything and immediately, or continue in its slow decay of things via its traditional channels.

What We Do in the Shadows is also an interesting exercise in the sense that it presents the figure of the vampire to a place that must also be his. Before the flowering of productions all the more serious, and also very good, as Morse or Only Lovers Left Alive, where the vampire becomes the object of reflection on human nature, a symbol of the impulses inassouvies or ugliness unmentionable in each, the merry troupe of new zealand also reminds us, and it is essential, that the vampire is a creature of entertainment. Perhaps it is because they like us so much (apart from their canines and their complexion pallor) that a plethora of filmmakers have chosen to perceive the vampires as the perfect metaphor of the passions, and as a way attractive to make, mine anything, the metaphysics on display.

What We Do in the Shadows borrows from the contemporary cinema as well as the milestone classics.”

Yet, what is the reason for bed-we still Dracula of our days ? What is the reason for the contemporary readers of Stoker had they already made it a best-seller ? Was it to plunge into a deep questioning about their own mysteries and their cruelty ? Possible, but hopefully not only. The vampire is the one that intrigues us, that we love even we are amused. Dracula, you can read it on the beach, a glass of grenadine to the side, just to travel a little bit, just to escape into a good story. Recovering the creature of the night, the cinema was disguised in spite of himself in character cursed, condemned to the elegance of Bela Lugosi or the charm of questionable Robert Pattinson. It was time to reiterate that it is one of these creations as the other of the human spirit, and this is not the Story that contradicted it, is, above all, capable of great finds when it used its formidable power of imagination.

So, even if Jarmusch did a good job (I am the first to adore him !), calmons-we gently before you really make of the vampire, our new teacher of philo. Take things lightly for once, let’s not be so down-to-earth. And laugh a little, it’s we relax !

Tom Johnson


Original title : What We Do in The Shadows

Achievement : Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement

Screenplay : Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement

Main actors : Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jonathan Brugh, Ben Fransham, Jackie Van Beek

Country of origin : New Zealand

Released : 13 February 2015 (Usa), soon in France

Duration : 1h22

Distributor : Madman Entertainment

Synopsis : A true-false documentary following the daily lives of vampires Viago, Vladislav, Deacon and Petyr, sharing an apartment in Wellington.

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