What We Do in the Shadows TV Pilot | SXSW Review


You can bet that if a foreign show or film lands stateside with a good amount of success someone immediately begins scheming on the best way to recreate it with a more American mindset.

The latest victim of this remake culture is 2014’s What We Do in the Shadows, a New Zealand comedy from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. By keeping the original creators on board the What We Do in the Shadows television series, at least going by the pilot screened at SXSW, maintains the ingenuity of the source material while setting up even more enticing plot lines.

Like the film, the show is a docuseries following three vampire roommates who have been living together for hundreds of years; Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou). Where things start to diverge is the introduction of an energy vampire (Mark Proksch) who drains the life out of you through boring conversations, and Nandor’s familiar – a vampire servant who hopes to be bitten as a reward – Guillermo (Harvey Guillen) who also live in the New York City home.

The episode lays the groundwork for a couple key relationships. One between Laszlo and Nadja who have been together for years, yet haven’t managed to develop many healthy habits in that time. It’s a relationship built on lust and instant gratification, and in the limited time we get with the characters we see how a small push from outside forces can quickly derail their happiness much to the audience’s benefit.

To fit these, some fantastic moments with Proksch’s energy vampire, and the introduction of a couple of recurring characters the pilot has to move at an frantic pace which can be difficult to keep up with. We don’t get as much time as we’d like to sit with these characters and the jokes don’t get much time to breathe, but that should be ironed out over the 10-episodes that are scheduled for the first season. It’s a proof of concept showing that the team has more than enough juice in the tank to carry through this run.

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS — “Pilot” — Season 1, Episode 1 – Pictured (l-r): Kayvan Novak as Nandor. CR: John P Johnson/FX

Fans of the original What We Do in the Shadows can rest easy knowing that the new television series captures the spirit of the source material while stretching itself to extend outside the walls of the vampiric residence. For those who have yet to dive into Waititi and Clement’s original world, get a clean cup because you’ll be drinking the blood-flavored kool-aid soon too. This is how adaptations should be done.