Mockumentaries, cue Hannah M, have the best of both worlds. They’re a trove for dry, deadpan comedy, while filled with doses of ironic commentary. And if you’re badly in need of something to laugh at that’s chock-full of pop culture references, well, they’re here for you.
From the lives of dubious vampires to giant man-eating squids, here are a couple of mockumentaries to get you going IRL.
“What We Do in the Shadows” (2014)
Dir. Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement
If you plan to step into the series, don’t skip the OG movie. The 2014 mocku revolves around a ragtag team of vampire housemates (Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, et al.) and their freshly bitten bloodsucker friend Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), who has a proclivity for “Twilight” references. In short, it’s stony, straight-faced humor paired with some semblance of urban fantasy.
“Popstar: Never Stop Stopping” (2016)
Dir. Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer
In this Bieber-if-he-were-in-NSYNC mockumentary, Connor (Andy Samberg), Owen (Jorma Taccone) and Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer) have made it big as the pop trio, The Style Boyz. But a rift among the group causes them to soon disband, turning Connor into the solo act, Connor4Real. The Lonely Island feature film includes major musician cameos and legitimate bops, with tracks like “Finest Girl (The Bin Laden Song)” and “Equal Rights” featuring Pink.
“This Is Spinal Tap” (1984)
Dir. Rob Reiner
Dubbed “the ultimate mockumentary,” the ’80s flick follows fictional British rock band Spinal Tap navigating a comeback tour as a group of has-beens. The cult classic takes on the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll culture into realms of ridiculousness where they get into a series of absurd scenarios one after another.
“Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay” (2011)
Dir. Antoinette Jadaone
While it has its humorous moments on the surface, Antoinette Jadaone’s debut feature is founded on sincerity. Featuring local horror icon and “Shake, Rattle and Roll” vet Lilia Cuntapay, “Six Degrees” is a fictionalized take on the life of a legend, as she gets nominated for her first acting award.
“Monster Seafood Wars” (2020)
Dir. Minoru Kawasaki
“Pacific Rim” has got nothing on this tokusatsu kaiju film, where Yuta from the Tsukiji Fish Market accidentally drops his seafood meal into the Sumida River. What comes next is the birth of a giant mutated squid monster who begins to wreak havoc in Tokyo. This triggers a mutant octopus and a colossal crab to also emerge from the depths of the ocean, cueing the much-needed formation of humanity’s heroes—the Seafood Monster Attack Team, a.k.a. S.M.A.T.
“Fear of a Black Hat” (1993)
Dir. Rusty Cundieff
Done with the popstars and rock wannabes of the mockumentary world? This ’93 Sundance pick focuses on made-up rap group N.W.H. (like N.W.A, get it?), taking a dig at hip-hop culture’s original sins of misogyny and homophobia. It’s a diss track—and in some ways, a love letter—to the rap scene, featuring musicians like “Vanilla Sherbert,” “MC Slammer” and all that.
Still from “What We Do in the Shadows”