What We Do In the Shadows @ The Ross

Viago (Taika Waititi)

Viago (Taika Waititi)

Who cannot forget the dark and brooding Count Dracula played by the very handsome Frank Langella in John Badham’s 1979 film Dracula? Or the dashing forever young George Hamilton as Count Vladimir Dracula in Stan Dragoti’s film Love at First Bite also released in 1979? Yes, that’s when Vampires were handsome, sexy, and seductive. Given the right circumstances, you would be hard pressed not to offer your neck to them for a midnight snack. Well, if you come into contact with the vampires in What We Do in the Shadows, an absurd documentary about vampires written and directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, you might want to stock up on those turtlenecks and scarves.

Vladislov (Jermaine Clement), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Viago (Jemaine Clement)

Vladislov (Jermaine Clement), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Viago (Jemaine Clement)

Yes, these vampires are outrageous in their antics, and you will love them and all of the unholy ways; I’m not so sure, however, you would want them around when the sun goes down. You never know what they might do in the shadows. Vampires have been running through the night of our popular culture for ages, and Clement and Waititi keeps going our interest in them. Set in New Zealand, the film features a house of four zany vampires. Just to name them would be an injustice so here goes their descriptions. There is Petry, played by Ben Fransham, who is a mute in dire need of a dentist; Deacon, played by Jonathan Brugh refuses to inhabit his age, and he is old; Vladislav, played by co-director Jemaine Clement, is the introspective one who believes in vampire traditions; and, Viago, the leader, played by co-director Taika Waititi adds his own flair to the bunch. These directors explore the night-to-night activities of these dysfunctional creatures from howling and hissing at rival werewolf gangs to house cleaning to coming out as a vampire to friends to discussions about the difference between humans and vampires–you know … the everyday ordinary struggles of life. Along the way, these vampires try to decipher modern day technologies such as skype, cell phones, and computers.

Clement and Waititi have sucked out the seduction and sexy, and even the ugly and repulsive (remember Boris Karloff’s and Gary Oldman’s Draculas?) along with all of our popular notions accorded to vampires to portray regular unadorned people who just happen to be vampires. Threaded within the film is a heartfelt theme: We all have our differences so let us at least try to live peacefully among each other. Just be careful when you come out at night.

What We Do In The Shadows plays through March 12 at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

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