What We Do in the Shadows is the follow-up (one of three; one is the series Wellington Paranormal, and the other is a potential film on werewolves) based on the film of the same name from 2014. The show has a great many similarities to the original film, down to the same central conceit: vampires and other supernatural creatures are real and live among us.
This series steps away from New Zealand and the roommates from the movie. Instead, we find ourselves in Staten Island, New York, with a new group of vampires. Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Lazlo (Matt Berry), Nadya (Natasia Demetriou), and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch). Also living with them is Nandor’s familiar, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén).
Despite the new surroundings and characters, the series feels very familiar having borrowed heavily from the aesthetics and comedy of the film. This is not surprising, however, given that Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi are deeply involved with the show.
You can catch the second season, which just recently started airing, on FX.
“Pilot” – S1E1
The pilot is very much in-line with what needs to be accomplished in a pilot episode. We get a strong introduction to the different characters, relationships, and a hint at some of the upcoming conflicts. The most important thing, however, is that the pilot needs to establish the comedic sense right away. “Pilot” handles it quite well, anchored by a strong ensemble, a brilliant creative team, and some great little twists and jokes at the expense of the vampire.
Particular standouts in the cast are Harvey Guillén as Guillermo and Natasia Demetriou as Nadja in the first episode, though everyone has a moment to shine. Guillermo’s perpetual doormat of a character is frustratingly hilarious and his moments of being the conscientious caretaker of the vampires are great. Nadja’s character as the only woman in the core cast can be a thankless archetype in less talented hands. Thankfully the show found a great actress in Nastasia Demetriou. I want to emphasize here, again, that the whole ensemble is fabulous and has strong chemistry.
The core story that runs through the episode involves the preparation for the visitation of an ancient, powerful vampiric Baron, played by Doug Jones in full Nosfertau-mode. The episode is absolutely filled with different jokes building on various vampiric representations. Among which is the humor built around vampire sexuality, feeding, and aesthetics are absolutely killer. Particularly with the appearance of the LARPers.
The brilliance of the 2014 film What We Do in the Shadows carries over to the pilot episode for the series. What you loved about the film by Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement translates incredibly well into a 30 minute episode.(5 / 5)
“City Council” – S1E2
The vampires are given a mission at the end of the pilot episode, and the (relative) enormity of the task is a smart choice to kick the rest of the season into gear. The show is up to the task following the pilot and is still largely hilarious. Needing to conquer the “new world” or “America” (it is a little unclear due to certain… communication issues from the Baron) the vampires set their sights on Staten Island.
The episode is very much an ensemble piece but Nadja has a very interesting arc with her siring a new vampire. Her simultaneously abusive, manipulative, and ultimately encouraging interactions with the LARPER Jenna, played by Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart) are hilarious. The presence of another vampire should pay off tremendously regarding Guillermo and his desire to become a vampire himself.
In two episodes it is hard to really give everyone the credit they deserve. Matt Berry’s Lazlo is consistently hilarious and has one of the funniest ongoing gags in the series (BAT!!). The inherent ridiculousness of Lazlo leads to some solid laughs in every episode. The episode uses him well in the scheme to deal with the city council and has Nandor’s own manipulations run counter to one another in suitably sitcom-fashion. Plus, you get a scene of a vampire luring raccoons.
As for Mark Proksch’s Colin Robinson, never the singular Colin, his character runs the risk of being one-note. Thankfully the series quickly utilizes him as an antagonistic figure rather than just a one-note annoyance. He is very much a manipulator and that should be fun to watch throughout the season. His feeding moment at the end of the episode is one for the ages.
An overall solid episode and a strong follow-up to the pilot. It’s pretty funny to watch the vampires deal with contemporary American culture and the local government. The biggest weakness from the episode comes from the fairly stock story of two figures (Lazlo and Nandor) working against each other toward the same end. But the end results of a pile of dead raccoons and a crazed councilman make up for the stock episode structure.(4.5 / 5)
Check back next week for a review of the next two episodes of What We Do in the Shadows.
The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine Special Live Watch Party February 10th!
The sweet putrid stench of love lingers through the air which can only mean one thing…Valentine’s Day and its annoying little winged cherub mascot, Cupid, is fast approaching. Soon, partners will be spoiling one another with extravagant bouquets of roses, heartfelt Hallmark cards, obnoxiously large teddy bears, glistening diamond jewelry, and heart-shaped candies or boxes filled with assorted mediocre chocolates. You know? Normal things couples do. I tend to prefer my chocolate boxes filled with bleeding hearts, à la ‘My Bloody Valentine’ but, beggars can’t be choosers, right? All jokes aside, Valentine’s Day is special for many couples, however, there are also many others who find themselves celebrating this day without a significant other. Luckily, Shudder, along with drive-in king Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) will graciously be keeping us lonely mutants’, and yes, all you horror fanatic couples’ company on Friday, February 10th as they return with The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine, premiering live at 9pm EST.
Love Spells Abound…
Back in 2021, Joe Bob and Darcy invited us to a gruesomely passionate night of spell-binding love witches and animatronic dinosaurs infused with teenage human brains during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You. Many, including myself, were introduced to the tantalizing 70’s inspired retro throwback ‘The Love Witch’ and the graphically goofy cult classic ‘Tammy and the T-Rex’, providing the perfect viewing pleasure to mend any broken heart. While the two films for this year’s morbid love-induced special have yet to be announced, as a special treat, Briggs has announced for the first time on The Last Drive-In, he will be marrying one lucky couple during the live showing. We here at HauntedMTL are eagerly awaiting the return of the ghoulish duo so, as is tradition, we will be proudly hosting a watch party on Twitter during the broadcasting of The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and tag us @hauntedMTL as well as @shudder, @therealjoebob, and @kinky_horror to partake in this night of unholy love.
What started off as a one-time special premiering on Shudder July 13, 2018, ‘The Last Drive- In’ was originally meant to be Brigg’s swan song; one last special before hanging up the bolo tie in retirement. However, due to so many mutants, excuse me…viewers tuning in and breaking the Shudder servers, it was only natural to announce an official full season of ‘The Last Drive-In‘, which would make its explosive debut March 19, 2019. Since then, Darcy and Briggs have spawned many exclusive holiday specials, have graciously donated to many charities within the community, and have accumulated 4 seasons of ‘The Last Drive-In’, with a fifth currently in production premiering on Shudder’s 2023 schedule sometime this year, let’s hope sooner rather than later.
Horror Noire, a Film Review
Horror Noire is a horror collection that includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.”
Horror Noire is a horror collection brought by the combined efforts of AMC+ and Shudder. The collection includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.” Horror Noire boasts Black directors and screenwriters, providing six unique stories.
As this collection explores six stories, I will skip the usual synopsis to assess the genres and ideas explored, albeit limited as needed. Expect to find supernatural horror, creature features, and psychological thrillers. Many short films deal with these genres while exploring Black issues, but this isn’t universal for the collection.
The directors and writers include Zandashé Brown, Robin Givens, Rob Greenlea, Kimani Ray Smith, Steven Barnes, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Tananarive Due, Shernold Edwards, Victor LaValle, and Al Letson.
What I Like
Each story remains unique, holding different strengths and weaknesses that highlight drastically different perspectives. Collections like VHS hold a similar premise to create their collection, but Horror Noire gives more creative freedom to its talent to be independent.
My personal favorite short film is Zandashé Brown’s “Bride Before You.” This period piece unravels a fable set in the Reconstruction Era. The entry feels Fabulistic in approach, which happens to be my preferred niche.
However, the best example of horror goes to Robin Givens’ “Daddy,” providing an existential horror tied directly to the characters involved.
What I Dislike
As mentioned, all have a particular style and idea. The downside of this approach always remains to keep the viewer interested long enough to find their favorite. If you find several underwhelming choices, this becomes a chore. But I imagine that is rare as the variety makes the options refreshing.
Personally, “Brand of Evil” had an interesting premise, but the execution fell short. On paper, it might have sounded like my favorite, which makes the lackluster execution a bigger letdown.
Horror Noire gives power and control to Black creators, providing a formula for a unique collection against others in the space. While the various subjects and approaches mean you aren’t likely to love them all, there should be a short film for everyone.
(3.5 / 5)
Episode six of Netflix’s Dahmer was not, honestly about our title character. Instead, it was about one of his victims, a man named Tony. We’ve actually seen Tony a few times during this series. We just didn’t know it was him.
And, well, he wasn’t exactly alive the first time we saw him.
Tony was born into a supportive, loving family. This is good because soon after he was born a viral infection took his hearing. He is black, deaf, and gay in the early 90’s.
Tony has a dream of becoming a model. And he certainly has the looks for it. He is beautiful, body and soul. He has lots of opportunities for romance, but it’s not what he’s looking for. He wants a real relationship.
Eventually Tony moves to Madison, trying to pursue his dream. He gets a job and starts getting modeling work.
Then, he meets Jeff Dahmer at a bar.
At first, we can almost believe that it’s going to be alright. Jeff seems happy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s not drinking as much. He even has his dad and stepmom over for dinner. It seems like his life is getting on track. Even better, he’s treating Tony right.
Then, of course, things go bad.
One thing that has always bothered me as a true crime fan is that we know so much about the killers, but not as much about the victims. Not so much if we don’t know who the killer is, of course. But the names that are part of our pop culture are those of the killers. Dahmer, Manson, Jones, Bundy, Holms. The names we don’t know are Roberta Parks, Beth LaBiancas, Leno LaBiancas, and Tony Hughes. And clearly, we should know them.
If Tony Hughes was half the shining, positive person that the show Dahmer made him out to be, I’m so sad that he isn’t with us anymore. We need so many more people like him. And many of Dahmer’s victims were likely just like him. After all, he was attracted to them for a reason.
This was a significant episode, and I understand why it’s the highest-rated episode of the series. I finished it with a heavy heart, saddened by the loss of a man who should still be with us today.(5 / 5)