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Senior Correspondent

‘What We Do In The Shadows’: That Sucking Sound

‘What We Do In The Shadows’: That Sucking Sound

© Unison Films 2015

After several lifetime’s worth of experiences, you’d think vampires would get it right.

But, no, the bloodsuckers starring in the faux documentary “What We Do in the Shadows” are a singularly inept bunch whose existence argues against the notion that with age comes wisdom.

Written and directed by Jemaine Clement (half of the comedy/musical duo Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi, “What We Do…” purports to be footage shot by a New Zealand  documentary crew that’s been granted permission to film the nightly activities of a group of vampires living together in a creaky old house.

Usually front and center is Viago (Waititi), an affable and childlike fellow in the Andy Kauffman mold who still wears the Byronic fashions of his human life and looks upon the film crew as an opportunity to dispel many of the misconceptions about  his vampire brethren.  (“We get a really bad rap.”)

Vladislav (Clement) has a taste for torture that reflects his flesh-and-blood life in the late Middle Ages. Think Vlad the Impaler.

Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) is basically a frat boy. A former Nazi, he now is a dedicated slacker and is often criticized by his housemates for not pulling his weight: “You have not done the dishes for five years.”

Finally there’s Petyr (Ben Fransham), who lives in the cellar and is a dead ringer for the bald, rat-clawed vampire in the classic silent film “Nosferatu.” Petyr is the “father” of the others, but at age 8,000 he doesn’t exert any more energy than is absolutely necessary.

There are hangers on as well. Jackie (Jackie van Beek) is a suburban housewife who has agreed to be the boys’ “familiar” — running errands and procuring victims — in return for eternal life. Problem is, she’s pushing 40 and if she doesn’t get her reward soon Jackie fears she’ll enjoy the next several millennia as an old lady.

Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) is a local guy who has befriended the vampires and eventually gets initiated. But he’s so eager to show off his new vampire skills that he becomes a liability. At least he has introduced to the group Stu (Stuart Rutherford), a rosy-cheeked simpleton who becomes their mascot — albeit a mascot who must be protected from any other vamps who cross their paths.

To the extent that it has a plot, “What We Do in the Shadows” is about the boys preparing for the annual Unholy Masquerade, a sort of supernatural graduation party.

There are costumes to be designed — the innocent Viago wants to go as Blade, but is informed this would be inappropriate.

There are confrontations with a local bunch of werewolves — think of it as a gang war between singularly hapless Jets and Sharks.

There are a couple of cops who show up to investigate reports of screams and, adopting a chattily familiar attitude, misinterpret all the evidence of mayhem.

And there’s the ever-present search for victims. The boys really aren’t very good at the seductive arts — they spend a lot of time hanging at a rather sad nightclub where they usually end up dancing with each other. So much for the glamor of vampire life.

“What We Do in the Shadows” is a shambling, low-keyed comedy that only uses special effects when it can contribute to the joke (one of the vampires employs levitation to get to those hard-to-reach cobwebby corners of the high ceilings).

This one has future cult classic written all over it.

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