‘What We Do in the Shadows’ Review: Rising at Night, and Shining

February 19, 2015 8:34 PM

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‘What We Do in the Shadows’ Review: Rising at Night, and Shining

Marketing campaigns can bring moviegoers into theaters to see what the fuss is all about, but they can’t generate the excitement of those rare occasions when audiences discover a movie on their own. That’s what happened recently with “American Sniper.” The film certainly benefited from marketing, but no one expected the huge crowds that showed up on the first weekend of national distribution. Now a very mini version of the same phenomenon may be taking place—for very different reasons—with “What We Do in the Shadows,” a charming curiosity from New Zealand. After commercial success at home and in Australia, followed by screenings at film festivals here, this mockumentary opened last weekend in only two theaters, one each in New York and Los Angeles. Yet its spectacular per-screen business forecast more of the same during the current national rollout. Did I mention that the subject is vampires? No deep meaning or social relevance, only welcome diversion from these troubled times—i.e. superbly silly fun.

Genre prodigies like this one sometimes elicit guarded responses along the lines of “I liked it”—pause and/or shrug—“for what it is.” And yes, “What We Do in the Shadows” is one more riff on mythical bloodsuckers, one more pseudo-factual sendup in the hallowed tradition of Christopher Guest. That sa...

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