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Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement
Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer
Writing Credits:
Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement

Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav are vampires who are finding that modern life has them struggling with the mundane - like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts.

Box Office:
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 85 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 7/21/15

• Audio Commentary with Writers/Directors/Actors Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
• “Behind the Shadows” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Video Extras
• Interviews
• Promo Videos
• Poster Gallery


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


What We Do In the Shadows [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 19, 2015)

When I last viewed the cinematic pairing of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, it occurred via 2007’s Eagle Vs. Shark, easily one of the most horrendous films I’ve ever seen. So why did I give them another shot with 2015’s What We Do In the Shadows? Because I’m an open-minded, forgiving sort – and I’d forgotten that they made Eagle.

So into my player landed Shadows. Roommates Viago (Waititi), Vladislav (Clement) and Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) deal with the usual life concerns. They need to pay the rent and navigate complications such as daily chores and their social lives.

Oh, and they’re also vampires. Presented in a documentary format, we follow the lives of these three bloodsuckers and see how they function in everyday society.

On the positive side, Shadows definitely fares better than Eagle Vs. Shark. Granted, that’s the definition of faint praise, as I find it hard to think of movies worse than Eagle, but at least Shadows delivers something reasonably entertaining.

It comes with a decent spin on the vampire genre. We’ve gotten scads of that sort of film over the last few years, so the themes can get tedious, but the decision to play vampires as documentary/reality show subjects brings us a fun spin.

I also like the nerdy nature of the lead vampires. The Twilight series places the undead in standard human society, but it makes those characters beautiful and desirable. The guys of Shadows come across as boobs most of the time, so they lack the usual allure given to vampires. That turns into a clever change of pace.

Unfortunately, these positives aren’t enough to sustain our attention across 85 minutes. Shadows plays a bit like a vampire Spinal Tap but it lacks that classic’s engaging characters and amusing situations.

Not that Shadows doesn’t try to give us something witty and inventive, of course – it just fails to deliver much spark or creativity. Beyond superficial differences, the characters tend to feel a lot alike, and the situations don’t vary much either. Sure, the film introduces a newly-turned vampire along the way, and that adds a minor shot in the arm, but it’s not enough to sustain the story.

This leaves Shadows as a sporadically amusing effort but not one that works as a feature film. The scenario would’ve worked better as a short, not as an 85-minute movie. Expect a few laughs but not enough to make this a good movie.

Note that a short bonus snippet appears after the end credits.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

What We Do In the Shadows appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a mostly positive presentation.

Sharpness varied from strong to okay. Given the nature of the story, it focused on nighttime shots or interiors, and those could seem somewhat lackluster. The elements usually came across as well-defined, but some softness appeared at times.

I saw no signs of shimmering or jagged edges, and the movie lacked edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to appear, so we got a clean, blemish-free image.

Colors tended toward the brown side of the street. This wasn’t an overwhelming orientation, though, and it suited the material; one wouldn’t expect a vibrant palette for a vampire film. Blacks were acceptably dark, but shadows tended to seem a bit murky. This was a slightly mixed bag but it came with enough positives to merit a “B”.

Given the chatty comedy orientation of Shadows, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack lacked a whole lot of pizzazz. Much of the movie stayed with general atmosphere as well as stereo music. A few sequences – like those with fights – added some breadth, but these remained in the minority.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech remained natural and concise, while the score showed good breadth and range. Effects appeared accurate and dynamic, though they didn’t stretch the track’s capabilities. I felt the soundtrack fit the movie.

When we shift to extras, we start with an audio commentary from writers/directors/actors Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at their original short film and its adaptation to feature length, how they co-directed, cast and improvisation, sets and production design, music, editing and cut scenes, visual effects and related subjects.

Waititi and Clement deliver a perfectly adequate commentary but not a great one. They make it reasonably funny and give us a fair amount of info about the movie, so it comes with its strengths. However, the track never really becomes anything especially interesting; it works well enough but it lacks the necessary energy to be better than that.

A featurette called Behind the Shadows runs 17 minutes, 36 seconds and offers raw footage from the set. We get a few “on the fly” remarks along the way, but the piece emphasizes actual behind the scenes material. I like this sort of program and “Shadows” becomes a nice addition.

12 Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 31 minutes, 33 seconds. As we learned during the commentary, the crew shot over 100 hours of footage for the largely improvised Shadows, so these scenes represent just the tip of the iceberg.

Like the final film itself, some of these amuse while others flop. I like the vampires’ attempts to understand the Internet, but two funeral scenes go on too long and become tedious. Still, it’s a good collection for fans.

A bunch of components pop up under Video Extras. With a total running time of 50 minutes, six seconds, we start with the “Original Short Film” (27:25). Created in , it solely features Clement, Waititi, Jonathan Brugh and Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, the leads from the feature version.

In my main review, I opined that Shadows would work better as a short film. I still think that’s true, though this original version isn’t particularly satisfying. A cut-down edition of the material would be good, but this initial stab at the movie seems spotty.

The remaining snippets focus on characters. We get “Erotic Deacon” (3:25), “Viago Sings” (2:33), “Vlad Paints” (1:41), “Vlad’s Poetry” (1:10), “Jackie the Familiar” (5:03), “Night Dentist” (3:59), “What Stu Does” (3:36) and “Vampire & Werewolf Dance” (1:11). All of these offer cut or extended scenes, so I don’t know why they don’t appear in the “Deleted Scenes” area. Whatever the case, fans will enjoy them.

Next we get 18 minutes and 35 seconds of Interviews. These come from characters, so we hear from Deacon (2:45), Viago (3:04), Vladislav (2:45), Police (2:23), Werewolves (3:35) and The Zombie (4:01). Once again, these offer deleted scenes, so I don’t understand why they show up in a separate place. This is still a good collection, though.

Six Promo Videos fill a total of six minutes, 39 seconds. These use movie shots to sell the film. Some unused footage appears as well, and those elements make the promos more interesting.

Finally, we get a Poster Gallery. This presents 50 advertising elements. A lot of them can be clever, so this turns into a nice set.

With What We Do In the Shadows, we get a parody of the vampire genre. Although the movie scores the occasional laugh, it runs way too long and doesn’t keep us with it the whole time. The Blu-ray provides mostly positive picture and audio along with an abundant selection of supplements. Shadows isn’t a bad movie, but it sags more than I’d like and feels much longer than its 85 minutes.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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