What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
  • Time: 86 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Horror
  • Directors: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
  • Cast: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh


Follow the lives of Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) – three flatmates who are just trying to get by and overcome life’s obstacles-like being immortal vampires who must feast on human blood. Hundreds of years old, the vampires are finding that beyond sunlight catastrophes, hitting the main artery, and not being able to get a sense of their wardrobe without a reflection-modern society has them struggling with the mundane like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts.


  • This is the story of four vampires, living in a house in Wellington, who have agreed to have their lives taped. Find out what happens when vampires stop being polite, and start getting real. What We Do in the Shadows is an occasionally funny mockumentary written and directed by Eagle vs Shark’s Taika Waititi and Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement.

    The opening title cards tell of a secret society in New Zealand who gather every few years for The Unholy Masquerade. The New Zealand Documentary Board have decided to follow a quartet of living undeads in the months leading up to the ball. There’s bloodsucking dandy Viago (Waititi), aged 379, a fussy sort who chastises his housemates for not doing their share of household duties, and lays down newspaper pages to catch the blood that’s about to be spilled by his latest victim. Vladislav (Clement), aged 862, is a pervert, hypnotiser, torturer, and shapeshifter. Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) is the baby of the bunch at 183 years old and a former member of Hitler’s Vampire Army. Best of all is 8,000-year-old Nosferatu look-alike Petyr (Ben Fransham), who doesn’t even bother with social niceties.

    The camera crew follows the vamps through flatmate meetings and nights out on the town, where getting into nightclubs is a tricky affair since they can only enter if they’re invited in. A dinner party with unwitting guests procured by Deacon’s human servant Jackie (Jackie Van Beek) ends up with one of the guests, twentysomething Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), being turned by Petyr. Not a big deal, par for the course, except Nick keeps bragging about being “the main guy from Twilight” to anyone within earshot. Deacon isn’t particularly fond of Nick, who soon becomes jealous when his best mate Stu (Stuart Rutherford) is instantly welcomed by the bloodsuckers.

    Clement and Waititi throw werewolves and zombies into the mix and do fire off some successful gags, but the film’s premise is too slight to sustain over the course of 87 increasingly interminable minutes.

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  • To anyone who believes the both the mockumentary and vampire genres have been done to death and have nothing else to offer need look no further than What We Do in the Shadows, the blood-sucking comedy from Kiwi duo Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Concords) and Taika Waititi (Eagle Vs. Shark (2007)). While lampooning the recent Twlight-inspired vampire craze has been done already with the dreadful Vampires Suck (2010), What We Do… manages to be both hilarious and endlessly creative with its take on the genre, managing to deliver some genuine (and surprising) scares along the way.

    Uber-tidy vampire Viago (Waititi) resides in his decaying mansion with his fellow fang-bearers, Vladislav (Clement), a torture-and-seduction type who was dubbed Vlad the Poker in his heyday, the slobbish Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) who is deluded about his own physical attractiveness, and Nosferatu-lookalike Petyr (Ben Fransham), an 8000-year old who doesn’t take too kindly at being awoken from his coffin. They bicker about washing the dishes, go to clubs but can’t get in without the bouncers extending them an invitation, and occasionally exchange insults with the local pack of werewolves, led by the polite Anton (Rhys Darby), who reminds his fellow wolves that they’re “werewolves, not swearwolves!” Their routine life is shaken by the freshly-turned Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) and his human friend Stu (Stu Rutherford).

    Some scenes border on genius – the set-piece involving a terrified and still-human Nick being led to believe he’s eating maggots (“I stole that from The Lost Boys,”) and chased around the dark and endless mansion by the teleporting and shape-shifting trio achieves more excitement and frights than any full-blooded horror can hope to muster. It mocks and homages the genre, answering questions such as what would vampires search for on the internet? Virgins and sun-rises, obviously. As the blabbermouth Nick inadvertently sets a vampire hunter on their trails and the loveable Stu shows the housemates the delights of modern technology, the film becomes a sweet portrayal of friendship and learning to embrace, or in this case, tolerate diversity. The funniest film I’ve seen in a long time.

    Rating: 4/5

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