‘What We Do In The Shadows’ Season 2 Finale
FX reality TV style comedy about Staten Island vampires renewed for season 3
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
The Jemaine Clement-Taika Waititi 2014 film "What We Do in the Shadows" almost didn't get released in the U.S. but now the hit FX Networks series is having its season finale and getting renewed for another.
Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement rescued vampires from the fading clutches of "Twilight" and reanimated them with wicked humor in "What We Do in the Shadows." But to get the film released here in the U.S. they had to run a Kickstarter campaign to distribute the film themselves.
The New Zealand film served up a mockumentary about the trials and tribulations of being a vampire in modern day Wellington; everything from consuming your beloved to how to dress when you have no reflection to dealing with pesky werewolves. It became a cult hit.
The filmmakers chose to focus on the mundane rather than the fantastical aspects of being a vampire to deliver not just one of the funniest films in years but also one of the best vampire films ever. They reveal more respect for and knowledge of vampire lore than most serious horror films do, and that only makes their film more delightfully satisfying.
Two years later the film became an FX series of the same name and moved the storyline to New York City and a new group of vampires. We now have Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) and her husband Laszlo (Matt Berry), an energy vampire, Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), and their familiar, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén).
The film was so perfect and its cast unique that I had worried about the series being able to maintain the same level of humor. But I should have had more faith. The series is one of the best on television and has been tirelessly funny and original.
When I interviewed Berry (who has a cult following of his own for "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace," "Snuff Box," "The IT Crowd," "Toast of London") the publicist warned him not to give away any spoilers; especially not to mention the guest stars. To which Berry responded, "There are guest stars?"
His surprise was genuine because the show does not air in his native London so he hasn't seen any of this season, plus it is shot in such an improvisational way that he never knows exactly what will be in each episode. But the exchange did confirm that we can expect some kind of guest star or stars.
Earlier this season Mark Hamill made a guest appearance as a vampire. And last season, an episode called "The Trial" gathered many of the most iconic contemporary actors who have played vampires and cast them as part of the vampire council. So we got Wesley Snipes, Tilda Swinton, Evan Rachel Wood, Danny Trejo and Paul Reubens with a reference to Robert Pattinson declining. It was an absolute delight. That show set a high bar for guest stars but I have confidence that whoever the show gets for this year's season finale will be great.
Berry finds the creative environment of the show stimulating. Even the sets provide inspiration because they’re not just facades but cleverly dressed rooms filled with all sorts of curiosities.
"We all love the set. I mean the set is the best set that I've ever worked on. Normally they're a bunch of flats with office furniture. But this is fantastic because everywhere you look it's a 360-degree affair," Berry said. "So if there's that amount of attention to detail that's gone into everything and you look at around you, then you have to match that. I think you have to be as good as all this — it kind of makes you raise your game."
Berry, who is also a writer and composer, also helps the show raise its game and he has contributed music and songs to the show.
The show has a wonderful way of surprising viewers. So in one episode a ghost haunts the Staten Island house, but Nandor and Laszlo scoff at the idea of ghosts while Nadja is terrified.
"It's always really interesting and can be quite funny where we have a certain kind of creature like a vampire or like a zombie, but then you think. what scares them," Berry said. "They're very famous for scaring everyone else but then what would scare them? And the more stupid and sort of trivial or almost childish thing that scares them is always going to be quite interesting and it could be funny."
It most definitely was funny.
There was also that time when Colin Robinson (he's such a nondescript energy vampire that you always must say his full name) had to deal with an online troll who turned out to be a troll, a very real and gigantic one.
As a fan of the show I am so sad that this will be the last new one to watch in quarantine, but I'm thrilled it has been renewed for another season. If you have never seen the show, take some time to binge the previous episodes and then enjoy the season finale, there are jokes that play much better knowing the full storyline. The creators and cast know how to reward loyal viewers with things that can pay off episodes after a character or plot point have been introduced.
You can listen to my full interview with Berry on my latest Cinema Junkie Podcast.
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