Revisiting TIFF 2014: What We Do in the Shadows

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of TIFF, I will be revisiting one film from each year I attended the festival. Please be aware that these discussions may include SPOILERS.

We are now one day away from the 2015 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. That means it is time for my final post in celebration of the festival’s 40th anniversary. There are a number of films that I saw at TIFF last year that I would have liked to revisiting, including Shrew’s Nest, The Duke of Burgundy, ’71, and The Dead Lands. However, since many of those films aren’t currently inaccessible, I decided to go with the easy choice of What We Do in the Shadows.

Even though What We Do in the Shadows played as part of Midnight Madness, it is not very typical the late-night gorefests that usually play as part of the programme. The film is very much a comedy first and horror film second and is quite a lot of fun to watch. This was my third time watching What We Do in the Shadows and I still very much enjoy the film. While it was not my personal favourite Midnight Madness film from last year, that would be The Editor, it is still a film that I will rewatch countless times.

I went into What We Do in the Shadows already being a fan of Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords. I was less familiar with co-director Taika Waititi, even though I was aware of the the 2007 film he made with Clement entitled Eagle vs Shark. I also heard quite a bit of praise for Waititi’s 2010 film Boy, which is a film that I will try to someday check out.

In all complete honesty, there is probably not much more that I can say about What We Do in the Shadows that I hadn’t already said in my review for the film. It is interesting to go back to the original short film from 2005 and see how things were done differently in this feature version. Apparently many of the actions in the film were completely improvised, based on a rough outline.

One aspect of What We Do in the Shadows that I liked is how the illusion is maintained that this is truly a documentary about vampires. This made for an entertaining Q&A with Jemaine Clement when the first screened at TIFF, since he refused to break the fourth wall while answering questions.

Even though What We Do in the Shadows is only a year old, I think that it has now secured its place along with This is Spinal Tap, as being a very entertaining and rewatchable mockumentary.

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).