If you haven’t seen Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s 2014 horror-comedy mockumentary “What We Do in the Shadows,” you still have time to watch it (and you should) before the new television series next month on FX.
Fans of the cult classic will be pleased to know that the series will stay true to the movie in many ways. The show will follow a mockumentary format, just like the movie did, and is centered around four vampires living together.
The series, however, will not be set in New Zealand. This time around, the vampires live in Staten Island. Although fans of the movie will be disappointed that Clement and Waititi won’t star in the series like they did in the movie, there will be more similarities than differences.
Influenced by movies like “This is Spinal Tap,” close friends Clement and Waititi decided to create a mockumentary about roommate vampires in 2013. “What We Do in the Shadows” was filmed in Wellington, New Zealand, where Clement and Waititi are originally from. The movie follows four vampire roommates: Viago, Vladislav, Deacon and Petyr, who live in a flat in the suburbs.
Although Viago, Vladislav and Deacon are hundreds of years old, they resemble humans and behave like them (sort of). Eight-thousand-year-old Petyr, however, looks and acts like a stereotypical vampire would, fangs and all. During the daytime, the vampires stay inside, sleeping in coffins or closets, avoiding sunlight (which could burn them to death). At night, they prowl the city, going to bars and looking for humans to invite back to their flat and, eventually, kill.
The movie features other supernatural beings such as witches, werewolves and zombies. Two humans play important roles, though most non-vampires featured in the movie meet their demise. Besides their preferred taste of human blood, these vampires face many of the same issues that human roommates do. They argue about chores, wingman each other at the club and hold roommate meetings; they also have messy bathrooms, a pile of dirty dishes in the sink and pine over ex-girlfriends. In fact, the roommates even help each other choose outfits by drawing pictures of them, because vampires don’t have reflections. Although they’re centuries old, the vampires act like college students, which is one of the movie’s biggest appeals.
“What We Do in the Shadows” has scenes that feature medieval art depicting demons with photo-shopped faces of the vampires, which works as the perfect parody. Favorite vampire movies of the directors, such as “The Lost Boys,” “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “Interview With The Vampire” are heavily referenced. Other culture references include “Twilight”and “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.”
The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, so neither should the audience. “What We Do in the Shadows” received rave critic reviews, which catapulted Clement and Waititi into the spotlight. It’s no surprise that several television networks wanted to pick up the adaption.
Although there were a few rumored sequels to the original movie, the “What We Do in the Shadows” television remake will be the first finalized production to come out of the movie so far, and the first American spin-off. However, another New Zealand-set spin-off appears to be in development. Although Clement and Waititi won’t star in the new series, they decided to produce the show. This half-hour comedy will feature Matt Berry, Kayvan Novak, Natasia Demetriou and Harvey Guillen in leading roles.
One way that the series differs from the movie is its inclusion of a leading female vampire, which is sure to stir things up. Another major difference between the two is their filming locations. Going from the relatively small city of Wellington to Staten Island and the surrounding area will be a big leap for characters. According to TVGuide, one episode in the first season will involve the vampires venturing into Manhattan.
In fact, producer Paul Simms said, “They’ve assumed that Staten Island is all of New York or maybe even all of America, but there’s a whole story where they go into Manhattan for the first time to meet the Manhattan vampires who are literally cooler than they are.”
Additionally, the “What We Do In The Shadows” series will feature a new kind of vampire that sucks energy out of humans instead of blood, which will add interest to the show. “Everyone who watches it will be like, ‘We have someone in our office that’s like that,’” said Clement. According to the producers, there will be other new types of supernatural creatures joining the cast. In a series like “What We Do in the Shadows,” there are no limits to the array of characters that could be included.
Although the series will be filmed with new characters and in a different setting, there is a small possibility that Clement and Waititi’s original characters will make an appearance. Knowing how thrilled fans of the movie would be if this happened, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a special guest appearance every now and then. Either way, fans of the original movie are sure to love the new series.
The movie is available on Amazon, Kanopy and Google Play, among others. And if you’re already a fan of the movie, there’s no better reason to watch it again to prepare for its March 27 release date.