Whoever said the vampire genre is dead clearly hasn’t seen FX’s What We Do in the Shadows, a TV adaptation of the film of the same name written and directed by Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement. This TV counterpart, developed by Clement (though Waititi serves as a producer and director), is not so much an adaptation as it is a spiritual successor that captures the film’s tone and sharp wit without feeling derivative, and for me it is already shaping up to be one of the best comedies on TV.
For those of you unfamiliar with the original film, it is a mockumentary style comedy that centres on a group of vampires who live together in New Zealand, focusing on how they go about their daily (or, in this case, nightly) lives. This includes satiating their thirst for blood, highlighted in one particularly hilarious and bloody scene, as well as going into more detail on their past lives, loves and ongoing feud with werewolves (who are not swear-wolves, by the way).
The show, then, takes this formula and focusses it on another group of vampires living in America (though the production is shot in Toronto), whose purpose there is to conquer the land, but have barely moved past the street on which they live. The central cast is excellent, with Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry and Natasia Demetriou playing the traditional vampires, but there is also an inspired twist to the show by introducing an “energy vampire” played by Mark Proksch, who many might remember from Better Call Saul, and certainly plays to his drole strengths here. There is further nuance added to the show by depicting a familiarity of one of the vampires, played by Harvey Guillén, who himself longs to be a dweller of the night. There are also innumerable cameos and guest appearances that occur throughout the show’s run, but these are better left as surprises, believe me.
Just as the film was a breath of fresh air for horror and comedy alike, the show is constantly finding new ways to exploit the audience’s knowledge of the supernatural to side-splitting effect (just wait for the Laszlo’s “vulva garden” and you will see what I mean). Even aspects they have explored in the film before, such as werewolves, are explored from a different perspective without ever recycling key ideas from the film.
Bear in mind, I am only six episodes into the first season, so there is a chance that I could be speaking too soon, but this is a show wholly confident in its own identity right out the gates, and the reviews grow stronger with each season, of which there is currently three, so What We Do in the Shadows is by no means on a Game of Thrones-like trajectory.
This is definitely a show I will revisit in a later article once I am up to date with it, so stay tuned!