Sometimes a cleverly conceived albeit rudimentary conceit works better than convoluted genre contrivances. What We Do in the Shadows epitomizes such an ideal, the film itself being a purposefully uncomplicated mockumentary centered on the lives of three vampiric flatmates. Going about their business in ways not unlike what a bulk of standard humanity is accustomed to, the trio laughably struggles to coexist in the days leading up to a glorified annual banquet for the comparably undead.
In applying the simplest aspects of the human condition to that of schlubby bloodsuckers, Clement and Waititi haven’t struck gold so much as they’ve decided to exploit a lesser-explored and comically grounded niche. It goes without saying that the approach itself is refreshing, injecting a modest shot of adrenaline into the long-floundering subgenre Shadows knowingly subscribes to as it forgoes overt lewdness for genuinely earned laughs. Gone are the dick joke and ultra-meta trappings of contemporary R-rated romps, of which are replaced by a more modest, organic sense of humor that functions well amid eventual subjective fatigue.
More than anything, What We Do in the Shadows is an easily enjoyable and inoffensive breath of fresh air. How often have you griped about dirty dishes piling to the ceiling? Played off your repressed but still present feelings for an ex? Apply these nonoppressive existential grievances to the vampires at this film’s core – sans-sunlight, sense of style, etc. – and you have yourselves a perfectly competent mockumentary laced with cleverly implemented tropes that inherit the allure of the relatably less glamorous.