Amusing but Plotless. What We Do In The Shadows (2014) Review

What We Do In The Shadows feels like a compilation of best moments from a sitcom rather than a linear narrative. Like Borat its just a load of funny scenes with no clear beginning, middle and end.

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If you find yourself thinking ‘I guess that was funny’ while watching a comedy, that’s not a good sign. 

The only premise that can be conceived is that it is a comedic mockumentary concerning the wacky, chaotic lives of four vampire flatmates (Viago, Vladislav, Deacon and Petyr) living in modern day New Zealand.

The first twenty-five minutes simply establishes the characters’ biographies and their relationships with each other.

We learn that Viago was once in love with a woman and tried to meet her in New Zealand via delivery in his coffin to her address. Unfortunately, the delivery was delayed and by the time Viago had arrived his love was with someone else.

Viago’s desire is to get back with this woman and you’d this would drive the plot but it doesn’t. Most of the film consists of the group going out to nightclubs, struggling to live with each other and mentoring a new vampire, Nick.

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There are progressions as Nick boasts in public about the fact he is a vampire, drawing negative attention from vampire hunters and authorities.

Other developments ensue as the group prepares to go to a masquerade ball where vampires and other supernatural creatures congregate. Vladislav refuses to go as his ex-girlfriend, who he dubs ‘the Beast, is attending the event.

Despite these plot points the storyline is still cluttered with irrelevant subplots and pointless funny moments.

I’ve made it pretty clear at this point that What We Do In The Shadows has a weak plot but I’ve also mentioned it has many funny scenes so the film must succeed as a comedy, right?

I would say the film is more amusing than downright funny.

Every vampire trope in history is mocked in a fairly witty fashion. A good example of this is when the group struggle to get into a nightclub because the bouncers won’t invite them in.what-we-do-in-the-shadows (1)

These amusing moments however are not enough to save a plotless film.

On top of that the mockumentary form is very unnecessary, the story unfolds as an ordinary cinematic narrative with only one or two references to the documentary crew.

It didn’t need to be a mockumentary.

In conclusion What We Do In The Shadows deserves credit for its clever satire of the vampire genre but the muddled plot is an unforgivable flaw.

Hence What We Do In The Shadows gets a mediocre 4 out of 10. 

 

 

 

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An Awkward Beginning? Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes (1991) Review

The Graveyard Book was the only work of Neil Gaiman I was familiar with.

I thought it was ok; it had interesting characters, an interesting premise, I didn’t think it was the masterpiece everyone claimed it to be but I was convinced that Gaiman was a good writer with a unique imagination.

I had heard nothing but good things about Sandman.

While I’m aware that many fans, critics and even Gaiman himself have said the first volume, Preludes and Nocturnes, is a bit awkward and not that great, I thought it was fascinating and very entertaining.

Awkward? Let's have a look.
Awkward? Let’s have a look.

Dream (often referred to as Morpheus) is the anthropomorphic personification of dreams. He is captured in an occult ritual and imprisoned for nearly seventy years.

He escapes and, after finding his realm in ruins, tries to track down the location of his tools and rebuild his kingdom.

The main problem with Preludes and Nocturnes is the protagonist.

Morpheus, despite how interesting and cool-looking he is, isn’t very empathetic.

He’s cynical, intimidating and he makes for a compelling character but I didn’t really care about him.

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There are many antagonists in the story arc but Doctor Destiny, an old skeletal scientist, is the main one. He steals one of Morpheus’s tools, a ruby, and uses it to drive everyone to insanity. Destiny is a brilliant dark twist on the evil scientist archetype.

When Morpheus encounters him, he doesn’t seem really threatened. Its difficult to care for a character when he or she doesn’t express any concern in the conflict.

Despite its issues with the protagonist, Preludes and Nocturnes presents a beautifully dark and gritty fantasy world, something you won’t see in your average superhero comic.

The best story in the issue is undoubtedly the last one, The Sound of Her Wings. This, in Gaiman’s words, is the ‘epilogue’ to the arc.

After completing the quest Morpheus feels he has no purpose and falls into a deep depression. His sister, Death, comforts him and persuades him to explore the world he left seventy years ago.

The characterization of Death is wonderful. She’s quirky, empathizes with mortality, funny and adds an energy to the story that was absent.

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In conclusion Preludes and Nocturnes may be difficult to get emotionally invested in but its world and characters are unique and interesting enough to get you through the whole volume.

I’ll definitely be checking out the other volumes because from what I’ve heard the series just gets better from here.

Preludes and Nocturnes earns a respectful 7 out of 10.