Created for television by Jemaine Clement, ‘What We Do in the Shadows‘ is Executive Produced by Clement, Paul Simms, Taika Waititi, Scott Rudin, Garrett Basch and Eli Bush.
The next chapter of ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ goes from the big screen to the small screen tonight on FX with a TV series adaptation of the original film. We got a sneak peek at the pilot episode at SXSW and we can confidently say it captures the spirit of the original cast.
The new setting takes place in Staten Island. Why Staten Island? The location was picked because that seemed like a good place that people would settling coming over from Europe 200-300 years ago. Which is how long the new cast of characters have been calling it home.
Now it can be a daunting task to live up to the cult classic original with a whole new set of characters. But the series doesn’t miss a beat both in humor and in tone.
Living with roommates can be tough. They have to carry their weight. Part of that is general hygiene. As is addressed in the pilot episode with a joke about finishing what you started. You can’t just leave half dead victims laying around the house! “They were half drunk. They had been half drunk! It’s not hygienic!” This line set the tone for the whole series for me.
The TV show introduces us to the aspect of a vampire couple, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) and Laszlo (Matt Berry), living together but feasting on others. The couples dynamic is an interesting topic to play upon in this kind of world that can be promiscuous and it is even called out in the origin story of how the couple came to be. He was forced into being a vampire after being bit by her and giving him the “gift of eternal life.” The promiscuity is in full effect for the first episode when Nadja tries to date a human she is stalking. Setting up the character for the rest of the series and the couples dynamic.
Nandor (Kayvan Novak) and Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) are the odd couple of the bunch. Their friendship is one built on a work relationship – but it is clear the Guillermo, who is Nandor’s assistant, desperately seeks approval from his master waiting on his beckon call hoping one day he will be given the gift of eternal life. The exchanges between them are witty and effortless including a ‘Twlight’ glitter joke to make virgins feel more comfortable when they try to bring them to the house to feast on their blood.
Even with these strong cast of characters the one that stole the show for me personally was Mark Proksch’s energy vampire Collin Robinson. Unlike his counterparts he feeds on people by sucking their energy from them. Not their blood. How does he pull this off? Well, for starters he works in a corporate office environment where there are cubes as far as the eye can see. He stalks people in their cubes and when he least expects it he strikes up a conversation that will make them bang their head against a wall and slowly fall into a deep slumber. Collin is a complete 180 from the rest of the cast and a refreshing addition to the lore the movie set in motion.
The best part of March Proksch is he continue the bit his character portrays on the show during the SXSW Q&A panel. He would begin to answer questions in the same tone and pacing that Robinson did in the show – which drew big laughs from the audience in attendance.
One thing we learns from the Q&A is that the fan favorite werewolves will be making an appearance at some point during the first season on FX!
‘What We Do in the Shadows’ had some guerilla marketing efforts around the festival as well. Pop-up librarieswere in several places around Austin with a Guerillmo look-a-like actor inviting you to take a book and a tote bag that glows in the dark. Some of the books were classics like Bram Stokers Dracula while others were books pertaining to how to be an effective roommate tying into the series conceptual narrative.
If you are a fan of the original film you will love how the FX series expands upon the concept and brings fresh ideas to the narrative.