The vampire horror-comedy is well positioned to translate to an American TV series.
In another situation, creating three different spin-off projects out of one movie could be biting off more than you can chew (no pun intended), but for Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, it’s a rather logical progression for their 2014 mockumentary hit What We Do In The Shadows.
The pair of writer-directors have plans for a sequel entitled We’re Wolves, to focus on the werewolves seen in the first film, as well as a spin-off centering on two police officers who had minor roles in the film. Their third planned project, a stateside set TV series remake from FX, is already beginning to take shape. Variety reports that Lady Bird alumni Beanie Feldstein and Jake McDorman, as well as Mark Proksch (Better Call Saul) and The Shape of Water‘s Doug Jones have joined the cast.
They all join previously announced cast members Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, and Harvey Guillen. There’s no word yet on which roles each of them will play. Based on Jones’s history of portraying other-worldly creatures, though, he would be an excellent casting choice for the character of Petyr, an 8,000-year-old vampire who has lost any claim to a human-like appearance (played by Ben Fransham in the movie, seen below).In an age where practically any spin-off is part of a million or even billion dollar franchise, the What We Do In The Shadows universe would be a refreshing change. The film was made for a modest budget of $1.6 million and it’s unlikely that any of the planned projects would be costly. The film was original, clever, and funny, and audiences and critics alike responded well to it.
However, the film received a limited theatrical release, grossing a total of $6.9 million. This is a success, but not one that gives the film the brand recognizability of a blockbuster. For spin-offs, sequels, or remakes to work, these projects will have to draw in audiences not initially familiar with the source material. The addition of cast members like Jones and Feldstein, both of whom star in Best Picture-nominated films this year, brings some attention the TV project. In addition, Waititi’s work on Thor: Ragnarok and Clement’s inclusion in films such as The Lego Batman Movie and Brad’s Status have made both more well known to American audiences.
Part of the brilliance of the film — which follows a mockumentary crew capturing the lives of four New Zealand based vampires — is that it builds a world around the central premise while still keeping the focus of the story centered on its main characters. Minor characters were introduced, and while they may not have been fleshed out fully in the film, there was potential for Clement and Waititi to explore more of this world if they wished to later down the line. Additionally, the central conceit of there being a bunch of vampire roommates who contend with squabbles over doing household chores more than they focus on creating a bloodbath out of local townsfolk can just as easily suit an American setting as it does the original location of New Zealand.
The originality of What We Do In The Shadows will loan itself well to a number of related projects and the success of the film’s creators will only help to make these future shows and films more alluring. This, along with the fact that the American TV series is going to FX, which means there won’t be censoring of the comedy, indicates there’s a lot to look forward to with the upcoming show.