For a city of less than half a million people, New Zealand’s capital has to deal with a disproportionately high number of aliens, ghosts, zombies, werewolves… not to mention Bazu’aal of the Unholy Realm. Mercifully, the city’s police force has its own specialist unit to deal with these otherworldly mysteries, whose exploits are detailed in this hilarious mockumentary series, making its belated debut on British television, while the Kiwis are already on their third series.
Officer O’Leary (Karen O’Leary) and Officer Kyle Minogue (Mike Minogue) are drafted into the city’s paranormal investigation unit after encountering a young woman possessed by a demon, with the two officers then entrusted with investigating Wellington’s multitude of supernatural occurrences. O’Leary and Minogue were originally introduced as minor (though wonderfully memorable) characters in 2014’s acclaimed vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows from co-directors Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement – both of whom are co-creators and executive producers here, with Clement directing the previewed episodes.
To merely describe the humour as dry would be to do it a disservice: it’s drier than Melania’s eyes will be when Donald shuffles off to that Mar-a-Lago in the sky. It takes a great deal of intelligence to mine authentic and earned hilarity from such silliness, and Wellington Paranormal manages to be sharp, while performing broad comedic swipes (or rather, broad comedic projectile vomiting).
O’Leary and Minogue are endearing and thoroughly likeable, pitching their performances with perfection, and retaining their deadpan earnestness while inexplicable mayhem unfolds around them. The scalpel-sharp tone of the show is greatly aided by some impressive makeup and creature effects, the relative realism of which fits surprisingly snugly into the farcical universe created by Waititi and Clement. And it is a cinematic/television universe of sorts, with a second TV spin-off of the original film earning rave reviews in the US. Playfulness and joyfully contrived eeriness make for comfortable bedfellows. It’s absurd, it’s ludicrous, and it’s extremely funny.
Wellington Paranormal is released digitally on demand on 5th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Wellington Paranormal here: