Hammerle On… 'What We Do in the Shadows,' 'It Follows'

April 8, 2015

bob hammerle movie reviews“What We Do in the Shadows”

It strikes me that anyone associated with the legal profession would want to see a mockumentary about four vampires living as roommates in modern day Wellington, New Zealand. Based on some of the legal advertisement seen on TV, I suspect that there are a few creatures from the dark side lurking in our profession. After all, many vampires want to be considered as “Super” also!

“What We Do in the Shadows” is a comic absurdity that left most of the audience laughing repeatedly. It is deranged beyond description, and I can guarantee that you will find yourself gagging with delight despite occasionally hating yourself for doing so.rating-shadows.jpg

The four vampires are named Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr. Their ages range from 183 (Deacon) to 8,000 (Petyr). With the exception of Petyr, who looks like a recreation of the original Nosferatu, the other three look human although they lack any concept of acceptable social behavior. Wait until you see how they dress in public and you will understand.

In any event, since they have been invited to a masquerade ball, the plot revolves around their decision to hire a cameraman to film their activities over a period of one week. They give the cameraman a crucifix to wear to assure him that he will not be eaten. On the other hand, a vampire needs to find blood somewhere, so other New Zealand residents are fair game.

Deacon has a human servant called Jackie, and she cleans the house while providing guests to serve as a tasty dinner meal. One of the victims, Nick, tries to flee, but inadvertently is also turned into a vampire. However, he doesn’t really know how to be a responsible vampire, and he proceeds to identify himself without realizing he is risking a backlash from vampire hunters. Mayhem soon follows.

I saw the film with a friend who accurately described it as resembling a group of stoned, college fraternity members filming a mock story about vampires. While he wasn’t far wrong, the exchange between our four vampires is so excruciatingly funny at times that it is quite easy to ignore the film’s silliness.

At the much anticipated masquerade party, Vladislav meets the hated enemy of his long existence that he calls “The Beast.” You really begin to embrace the madness of this film when you realize that “The Beast” is Vladislav’s ex-girlfriend from a failed relationship that ended centuries ago. Needless to say, the passage of time doesn’t heal all wounds, and you quickly learn that applies to vampires.

As they flee the masquerade and try to head home, werewolves enter the picture. I will leave that encounter to your imagination. Let me just warn you that if you see this film with company, one of you will likely laugh yourself sick while the other responds, “What in the hell did you take me to this thing for!”

So let my endorsement serve as a warning.

“It Follows”

This movie functions as a teenage chain letter gone terribly wrong. The movie opens with a young girl fleeing her home partially clothed, only to drive to a beach where you see her leaving an apologetic phone message for her parents. The next morning she is found horribly dismembered lying in the sand, and you grip your seat with the knowledge that you have invited something very wicked into your cinematic life.rating-follows.jpg

You next see another teenage girl, Jay (Miaka Monroe), going out on a date. After enjoying having sex in the backseat of a car, her boyfriend uses a cloth to suddenly anesthetize her.

Jay wakes up the next morning tied to a chair in an abandoned warehouse. Trying to apologize, her boyfriend informs her that while he has been pursued by unknown creatures, the only way to save himself was to have sex and let his would-be lover absorb his curse. You immediately know that these two are not going to be sending endearing Valentine’s Day cards to each other.

After Jay is dumped back onto her front yard, she tries to tell her sister and friends this horror story that she can’t tell to the police. The rest of the film centers on her being pursued by ghastly, naked characters that no one else can see but her. You quickly learn the meaning of the title of this movie.

This is really a film where teenage sex becomes a weapon. With most people thinking that you may be clinically insane, what would you do if the only way to save your life was to have intercourse with another person and let them deal with your nightmare? However, should the last recipient be caught and killed, your “infection” never leaves. The creatures then work their way backward down the sexual ladder.

One of the things I like about films is that they occasionally inspire you to think. For example, a friend of mine who saw this film came up with a solution. He suggested that any victim go to another city and have relations with a prostitute. Obviously, that prostitute will have sex with numerous others, and you may move far enough down the chain where you can live into old age. Any sequel should follow-up that inspired thought.

Many reviewers have gone crazy reviewing this film, some calling it one of the great horror movies in the last 10 years. While it does resemble some of the emotional horror experienced by the humans trapped in a house as they are attacked by cannibalistic zombies in “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), “It Follows” doesn’t have the same unique impact as Chloe Grace Moretz’s teenage vampire in “Let Me In” (2010).

Sure, it is original in some ways, but will you really care?•


Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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