Earlier this month our Mixed Nuts Season got underway in fang-tastic form with a packed Palace Picturehouse at Armley Mills for a screening of modern cult favourite What We Do in the Shadows and a selection of shorts films, not to mention all the cake and a wildly popular fruit basket. That’s a keeper!
The screening had sold-out in five days and the feature lived up to expectations with The Mills filled with laughter thourghout the evening and our audience rating the New Zealand vampire mockumentary one of the best films we’ve ever shown.
I’ve never been a fan of the vampire genre. I’m a zombie fan-girl myself, so coming to see What We Do in the Shadows was technically going against everything I have believed in after trying to avoid watching anything slightly vampiric since ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ in my teens. Thankfully, knowing that the makers of Eagle Vs. Shark were behind the creation of the film made my journey to Minicine that evening far more palatable.
After a showing of three fantastic short films made in New Zealand/with New Zealand funding and some welcome Victoria sponge cake kindly sliced and given to me by the Minicine gang, I was ready for some comedy. What I got was a visit to Chuckletown for an hour and 40 minutes. Under the guise of a ‘documentary film’, the trials and tribulations of flat sharing for several decades with your century old vampire pals are well laid out. The fact that they’re vampires is really only a small yet hilarious annoyance to the problems the three main characters face, meaning an audience can relate to the niggles all house sharers face at some point during their time together. Issues such as responsibility for dirty pots, pitiful romantic lives and deciding what to wear on a night out are all dealt with in a hilariously deadpan manner.
I found the special effects minimal, unobtrusive and impressive, especially the act of flying which I’m still trying to figure out how was done without green screens and CGI. This aspect was a surprising treat like most of the film, and I’m more than happy to keep my disbelief suspended.
Every character was as likeable and as twisted as the next. Each trying desperately to come across on camera as interesting and ‘normal’ vampires (whatever that means) – an aspect of the film which ultimately explores the quite real notion that most humans, and post humous blood-sucking humans, just want to be liked, admired and have friends.
The mockumentary style was how you would expect, gleefully revealing the apparent mundanity of what it’s like to be a group of vampire friends in New Zealand (something I’ve often wondered would be like, of course) whilst accidentally capturing intimate and excruciating moments each character would like to have remained off camera. Fantastic work has been done in bringing the history of the vampires to life using doctored stock footage and photographs to include the characters within important moments of history.
All in all, the Minicine audience steadily roared with laughter throughout, I didn’t see one disappointed face as I left Armley Mills that night. I also felt that I had finally made peace with the vampire film genre once and for all, and the next time I meet a vampire I will be more understanding to the every day banal irritations that we both may share. Perhaps I might catch a knowing glance in their eyes of our equally hum drum existences as they suck the blood from my neck, and perhaps I will smile. To sum it up in a few words, it’s basically like ‘The Office’, but with fangs.
– Kate Broughton, audience member
What We Do in the Shadows (2014) dir. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waihiti – 4.84
Lost & Found dir. Joey Bania – 4.42
43,000 Feet dir. Campbell Hooper – 3.74
Stumped dir. Jack Nicol – 2.16
The next instalment in our Mixed Nuts Season is Takashi Miike’s over-the-top ‘Sound of Music meets Dawn of the Dead’ bed & breakfast musical The Happiness of the Katakuris, which screens at Armley Mills on Thursday 20 August. Tickets are available from our online ticket office now.
All our audience scores are listed here.