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film review

What We Do in the Shadows tells the story of four suburban Wellington roommates who turn out to be vampires.

Like a Christopher Guest movie with a widow's peak, What We Do in the Shadows depicts a supposed "New Zealand Documentary Board" film gone gruesomely, hilariously awry. It tells the story of four suburban Wellington roommates who turn out to be vampires, partly through bitchy, confiding, one-on-one reality-style interviews about their living arrangements and personality conflicts.

There's macho growler Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), wizened Petyr (Ben Fransham in Nosferatu's clothing) and lackadaisical Deacon (Jonathan Brugh). Rounding out the quartet is the fastidious Viago, played by Clement's Oscar-nominated co-writer/director on the film, Taika Waititi, who shines as the poignant lovelorn roomie who's dismayed by the household mess and tries in vain to keep on top of the chores even as his cravat and waistcoat get soaked in blood.

And blood there is, because the genre here is straight-up gross-out horror comedy, one that spurts a steady stream of low-budget gags. A few riffs turn into memorably absurd set pieces, as with one dinner-party scene that answers the question: What if Tod Browning had filmed Monty Python's Mr. Creosote sketch on a Camcorder while totally high?

Complicating matters are still-mortal pal Stu, groupie Jackie, a put-upon fangirl who irons their foppish clothes, and a tangential conflict with a group of werewolves that provides a welcome excuse to bring Rhys Darby into the proceedings.

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