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A Review of 'What We Do in the Shadows'

The tendency to watch the same three shows on repeat is something that I am all too familiar with. Of these shows, What We Do in the Shadows is a bimonthly ritual, and highly underrated. If you enjoy the dynamics of Plebs, the mockumentary style you find in The Office, but with a fantasy-horror twist, then What We Do In The Shadows is a classic. Written by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, who wrote and starred in the original 2014 film (of the same name). It focuses on a house of vampires living in Staten Island; the couple Laszlo and Nadja, Colin Robinson, Nandor ‘the Relentless’ and their human familiar Guillermo. The mockumentary is situated uniquely between the realms of mundane and supernatural; as the group try (and fail) to navigate modern life.

 

What's refreshing about this show is that the premise entirely satirises the overly manufactured vampire genre. Obviously, if you are a vampire-canon-purist who spurned Twilight, then maybe give What We Do In the Shadows a miss, as although the stereotypes remain consistent (yes, they can’t go in the sun and avoid wooden stakes) the tone is significantly less gothic/saucy/melodramatic than Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The character dynamics are often borderline idiotic, and I would not recommend watching with your parents. What We Do In The Shadows is not trying to be overly intellectual but the fantasy-horror elements allow for shenanigans that would not otherwise present themselves in Gavin and Stacey.

 

Furthermore, the actors' performances, despite the ludicrous writing, are outstanding. Natasia Demetriou’s portrayal of Najda - a short-tempered and self-proclaimed ‘temptress’ - is unforgettable. Her one-liners, often laden with contempt at her male housemates, are delivered with absolute conviction. Nandor, played by Kayvan Novak, is an ancient conqueror, who is - ironically - the moral centre of the group. At first glance, his character is less remarkable than that of Nadja or Laszlo, he is more of a slow burn to like than the other characters. Never far behind Nandor is Guillermo, his human familiar. Guillermo, disparagingly called ‘Gizmo’ by Nadja and Lazlo, is the heart of the group - played by Hrvey Guillén - he longs to be made a vampire but is forever stuck in the purgatory of cleaning up after (and often, nannying) the vampires. Colin Robinson is the outlier of the house, a so-called ‘energy vampire’ who feeds on humanity’s boredom and frustration. Finally, Matt Berry, who portrays Laszlo Cravensworth, who you might recognise if you’ve seen The IT Crowd and The Mighty Boosh, has a phenomenal grasp on his line delivery (case in point; my entire house has been quoting him for weeks), as well as an oddly heartwarming chemistry with his in-show wife, played by Natasia Demetriou. Stuck forever as an 18th-century gentleman and self-proclaimed as ‘devious’, he flips from unbothered to agitated - especially over his ‘topiary sculptures’ and peculiar (if not slightly macabre) wardrobe items.

 

Overall, What We Do In The Shadows is the perfect watch after uni as it does not require any level of critical thinking skills; with 5 seasons of roughly 25-minute episodes, it will keep you occupied for a while. In two words, What We Do In The Shadows is morbidly silly.


Words: Lizzie Winter, she/her

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