What We Do In the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows

Vampires have to be so cool nowadays. They must be sexy and sparkling and shirtless, or preppy young girls at a hip school for blood-drinking. And I, for one, am tired of it. I don’t need vampires to reflect the trends of my modern, youthful generation — if I wanted any of that, I’d actually leave the house and spend time with my modern, youthful generation. What we need more of are the old, decrepit vampires; the ones who spend most of their time in coffins and can’t perform a single action without giving off an unpleasant musk of sexual tension. And that’s exactly what What We Do in the Shadows provides — weird, old, sexually ambiguous vampires. Also funny ones, but that’s beside the point. It’s a mockumentary horror comedy, written, directed and starring Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi (the guy behind Eagle vs. Shark), and it promises all the laughs that one normally associates with draining human bodies of blood for sustenance. Seriously, though — the trailer offers up twelve different quotes of “hilarious,” all from different film-y publications. At that point, I’m willing to venture that it might actually be hilarious.

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LESSON OF THE EVIL from Takashi Miike

The Stanley Film Fest is the new kid on the block in the film festival game as 2013 was their premiere. We had the pleasure of attending and covering the genre-themed gathering last year, and in addition to the films that played the fest one of the biggest highlights was the location. The historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO hosts the festival, and as horror fans know it was an extended stay here that inspired Stephen King’s “The Shining.” The hotel and grounds are an architectural and atmospheric joy, and the surrounding mountains add a gorgeous sense of natural beauty. Basically, it’s a perfect setting for a horror film festival. This year’s list of films playing the fest is unfortunately light on premieres, but it features a fantastic bunch of critical darlings, new releases and genre favorites. It’s essentially a make-up fest offering a chance to see recent festival hits on the big screen where they belong. Some of the highlights include Jennifer Kent’s wonderfully creepy Sundance hit The Babadook (our review), Gerard Johnstone’s fresh horror comedy Housebound, Hitoshi Matsumoto’s incredibly funny, strange and affecting R100 (our review), and the funniest film of the year so far, Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement’s What We Do In the Shadows (our review). The fest also features some retrospective screenings including Joe Dante’s Gremlins, Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, and Mick Garris’ Sleepwalkers. (One of those things is not like the others…) There are other non-screening events planned too including a murder mystery dinner, a […]

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SXSW 2014

When it came to driving the discussion about SXSW 2014, if you weren’t Lady Gaga, Edward Snowden or Grumpy Cat, you probably didn’t hit the trending list on Twitter. But let’s be honest with ourselves: we weren’t there to drive discussions online by taking selfies with a sad cat. We were there to watch movies and share them with all of you, our beloved readers who may not have been able to meet us in downtown Austin. Don’t worry though, you saved what amounts to hundreds of dollars in parking fees and we did all the work for you. In total, the programming team at South by Southwest selected over 130 films from over 2,000 submissions this year. It was a lot to take in, but we feel confident that we’ve narrowed our own list down to the 8 best films that played this year. To do so, each of the FSR writers who attended the festival each picked two films to highlight. That list, the definitive guide to SXSW films you should keep up with as they move on to potential releases, can be found herein. While you read it, we’ll still be trying to sleep off the late nights. Yes, we realize SXSW ended a week ago. Stop judging us.

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what we do in the shadows trio

It’s remarkable that vampire mythology can still be mined for great comedy. Just when you think the Seltzer and Friedberg team closed the book on lampooning the creatures of the night and the overabundant amount of movies about them (with a terrible chapter), another duo prove there’s still actually hilarious potential in this subgenre. Jemaine Clement makes his directorial debut alongside occasional collaborator Taiki Waititi (Eagle vs. Shark; Flight of the Conchords) with the mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows, in which they didn’t necessarily find a ton of fresh jokes and gags in the material but still managed to execute each bit to perfection. Even Twilight provides fodder for new laughs here, not so much as parody of the franchise but of an amusing idea around it. The humor there stems from something bigger than vampires to make fun of general trendiness, treating the Edward Cullen character as a kind of hipster asshole in the context of the history of iconic vampires. He’s represented by a newly turned bigmouth (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) who obnoxiously clings to a foursome of flat mates, one of whom resembles Nosferatu (Ben Fransham), another with a Coppola-style Dracula/Vlad the Impaler thing going on (Clement), a dandyish Anne Rice type (Waititi) and, rounding out the group, a less definable vampire (Jonathan Brugh) who used to be the “young blood” of the group. He has history as an undead Nazi and now takes pleasure in ordering around his human servant (Jackie van Beek) and pranking people with […]

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Sundance 2014

Seems like just twelve days ago that Kate Erbland and I posted a list of our most anticipated films playing at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Our choices were based on elements as diverse as cast, premise, the filmmaker’s previous work, and even the two-word concept of an “abortion comedy.” As is always the case, though, expectations are never fully met, and while some movies we expected to love ended up disappointing us others that weren’t even on our radar completely blew us away. That, in a lanyard-wearing nutshell, is the beauty of film festivals. Unlike movies that open at your local cineplex or release onto Blu-ray and DVD each week, the majority of festival titles are unknown entities. There are no trailers or other marketing materials for these films, and the talent involved are often barely familiar faces at best. Most of the screenings are complete crapshoots, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This year’s Sundance was one of the most rewarding film festivals I’ve attended in regard to quality, and it’s evident in the high number of films already picked up for distribution. It’s telling that I had to exclude great and/or highly entertaining movies like Dear White People, Cooties, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, and The Battered Bastards of Baseball to narrow down my list below. Keep reading to see Kate’s and my top fourteen films of Sundance 2014.

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