This review originally appeared at Reel Spirituality
What We Do in the Shadows comes toward the end of a recent wave of vampire movies, books, and movies based on books. Mostly improvised, the film is presented as a documentary about a group of vampires in New Zealand as they prepare for the big event of the year, an unholy masquerade held at their local bowling alley. Most of the vampires would be more at home in medieval Europe instead of the modern world. Some of the humor comes from the vampire’s discovery of the internet and other modern technological conveniences (Vladislav the Poker [Jemaine Clement] is particularly fascinated by Facebook).
Much of the film’s success depends on your appreciation of the mockumentary subgenre, though What We Do is an excellent example of the form. Scenes are well thought out, and move at a good pace instead of dragging on as can happen in improvised films. Special effects are sparse, but are well done, and used to good effect for a movie with a lower budget. On the other hand scenes where the vampires fly in human form all but show the wires holding the actors up, though this adds to the comedic absurdity instead of detracting from the movie.
This movie draws on older, darker vampire mythology, and it is easy to imagine the main characters ofWhat We Do in the Shadows being truly frightening in a different setting, perhaps one in which they are not bickering about whether or not they have completed their assigned tasks on the chore wheel, or if it is practical to put some towels down on the couch before drinking the blood of their victims.
In addition to the comedic aspects of centuries old vampires sharing a flat, the film also looks at some of the difficult aspects of immortality. Vlad’s ability to hypnotize victims is damaged by a long running feud with his nemesis The Beast. A particularly poignant scene meditates on the difficulties faced by the immortal vampires face as they have to watched their mortal loved ones pass on.
By the end of the movie, What We Do in the Shadows’ occasionally pessimistic view of eternal life had me momentarily grateful for my limited life span. On the other hand, the hope of Christ’s return is eternal life for all who are in Christ. The good news is that we can look forward to the resurrection and not dread the heartbreak of losing friends and loved ones as did the vampires in the film. The eternal life that is promised is for the whole world to be recreated incorruptible.
The pessimism of What We Do in the Shadows in regards to immortality has more to do with the brokenness of the world than with a long life span. As time passes in the world as it is, our bodies, and all too often our relationships fall apart. Resurrection life is life as it was intended, with whole bodies and right relationships.
Instead of the centuries old feud of Vlad and The Beast, we can look forward to healed relationships with loved ones. Instead of watching loved ones die, we can look forward to watching loved ones thrive in resurrected bodies.
Life as a vampire in a perpetually broken world would be a dreary one, but new life in Christ is truly something to look forward to.