This What We Do in the Shadows review contains spoilers.
What We Do in the Shadows Season 2 Episode 4
What We Do in the Shadows Season 2, Episode 4, “The Curse,” deals with an internet hoax from the dawn of the world wide web. Nandor (Kayvan Novak) is the oldest of the vampire housemates on Staten Island. To say he has a problem keeping up with the times is an understatement. But he tries. He even has email. Of course, it’s on Hotmail, but time passes so quickly when you’re an immortal who has the time to check it?
Nandor the Relentless has a penchant for not checking his messages, though. It goes back hundreds of years and has led to a lot of useless slaughter. And with Colin Robinson as his relentless guide through the impenetrable fortress of internet security, procrastination has been worked out to a comic art form. Colin can suck the life out of any situation. It’s in his very being, being as he’s an energy vampire. Mark Proksch, who plays the deceptively dangerous de-energizer, invigorates his scenes. The more tension there is around him, the happier he is inside. Every mundane word that comes out of his mouth becomes funnier with the foreknowledge of his condition, but Proksh’s dull delivery always carries a touch of assuaged desire to remind us he’s just having a snack.
While Guillermo is out, Nandor learns that, besides some very nice offers from Fandango, he has been cursed via the electronic device by a powerful spell-caster named Bloody Mary. And no, you don’t have to say her name three times, but you do have to feed her the souls of 10 of your friends to get her off your back. She gains access to a person’s soul through their email. Nandor, who has faced countless nemeses in his many years on earth, is completely threatened by the tiny words on the computer screen. Vampires may not believe in ghosts, as we learned last week, but curses they are far too familiar with. They have been cursed with life, unending and often tedious, and devils know their own.
The swelling music over the scene when Nandor realizes he has until midnight to save himself from a hideous fate perfectly captures the suspense necessary to make the scene hysterical. Not in the mad frenzy sense, but in the humor quotient. Nandor is so petrified he makes matters worse by calling in reinforcements. “‘If you’ve read this far, it’s already too late.’ Why would you let me read this far,” Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), demands as the web entangles her in one of its most ludicrous strands. She is a master at pointing out not only the obvious elephant in any room, but the painfully self-evident unnecessary reason it so obviously not be in the room. Laszlo (Matt Berry) sees a completely reasonable way to get out of the curse, but is foiled in his belief that an email store closes early.
Colin knows his Tommyknockers from his Headless Apothecary and is completely amused at the power he both yields as a basic nerd, and can suck as the bespectacled energy vampire. What is especially funny about his interactions with the other vampires is they all tend to forget he’s feeding on them, almost all the time. While they are becoming more and more desperate about getting his email address, he slows the pace and ponders the effects of passing on the email curse to his workmates. They bleed out, emotionally, all over his room. Because they continually forget he’s a sponge, because they pay him as much mind as they would an object at the back of a sink. By the time they’ve signed up for his bi-weekly, and by that I mean twice a week, newsletter they can barely keep their eyes open.
One of the best things about “The Curse” is that reality hardly enters into the equation. The Staten Island vampires are vexed by an outdated technology hex and believe they circumvent it because unrelated incidents conspire to create a perfect coincidence. Yet their perception of the events never changes. Bloody Mary is as real and as formidable an enemy to the vampires at the end of the episode as she is when it begins. They learn nothing. They’ve been consistently learning nothing for decades, centuries even. Whatever comes to them as new knowledge only reinforces their preconceived notions and it is a comic gift which keeps giving.
Guillermo accompanies delusional wannabes as they accidentally come across mythical beasts. The Mosquito Collectors actually get their nets out, much to the surprise of the undercover familiar. Once again the vampire hunters roll out their big reveal. They’ve still only ever had to use it for one person, and this person is the same one who saw it rolled out the first time, but it’s nice to see how much they care.
The vampire hunting group is just as bad as the vampires as far as miscalculating the world around them. Their leader Claude (Craig Robinson) mistakes Guillermo’s hyperventilating reluctance for warm-up breathing, Derek can’t take a hint if it stuck him in the heart. But the home invasion scene contains genuine frights, and breathtaking gags. Even the camera crew gets caught up in the drama. The special effects work like impractical jokes tossing vampire hunters to and fro like rag dolls. Little girl vampire twins approach like they’re coming out of room 237 in a start stop motion version of The Shining. Guillermo stumbles his way to vampire hunting legendary status the same way Captain Parmenter sneezed F-Troop into destiny in the sixties. But we can see him accepting his fate as he gives the finger to encroaching enemy vampires on his action-hero dramatic exit from a notorious neighborhood home. He’s going to have a lot of explaining to do.
“The Curse” may be the best episode of the series’ run. It has everything: suspense, mayhem, action, ridiculous special effects and the eternal battle between monster and machine. It offers unforeseen riches of bloody comedy and ends on a very sweet note. Nandor exposes his vulnerability to Guillermo and we learn group hugs give Laszlo an erection.