In a genre swamped with melodramatic love stories and adrenaline-pumping action sequences, What We Do in the Shadows emerges as a refreshingly original comedy that pokes fun at the vampire lore itself.
Directed and written by New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi and co-star Jemaine Clement, this mockumentary captures the everyday struggles and absurdities of immortal vampires living in a modern world they hardly understand.
The film cleverly combines elements of horror, slapstick comedy, and insightful social commentary, creating a unique experience that is both hilarious and surprisingly poignant.
What Is What We Do In The Shadows About?
What We Do In The Shadows is a modern vampire movie that takes us into the lives of four vampires, house-sharing in Wellington NZ. It's an incredibly funny creation from the same team that brought us Flight of the Concords and Eagle vs Shark.
Viago (Taika Waititi), Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), Deacon (Jonny Brugh), and Petyr (Ben Fransham) reside in Wellington, New Zealand. We follow them through the lens of a documentary crew that is given special protection to film these creatures of the night.
The film shows how these vampire roommates grapple with modern-day issues, such as paying rent, maintaining household chores, and navigating social media, all while needing to consume human blood for sustenance.
It employs a mockumentary style, offering candid interviews, awkward interactions, and moments of unexpected humour. This style allows the audience to see the ‘human’ side of these mythical beings, including their petty squabbles and outdated understanding of modern society.
As they prepare for the annual Unholy Masquerade, tensions rise and vulnerabilities are revealed. Each vampire undergoes their own mini-arc. Viago, for instance, tries to fit into modern society and longs for his lost love.
Vladislav struggles with his waning powers and fears his arch-nemesis, “The Beast”. Deacon, the youngest, learns about responsibility. While Petyr, the oldest and least human, serves as the enigmatic and fearsome presence that ultimately causes a significant change in their undead lives.
Two additional characters significantly affect the vampires' dynamics. Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) is a newly-turned vampire who is quite inept at his new undead life. And it is Nick's human friend, Stu (Stu Rutherford) who introduces the group to modern life and technology.
These characters act as catalysts for the plot, providing both comic relief and narrative drive especially when Stu's life is threatened and the vampires discover that humans are worth fighting for.
What We Do In The Shadows Trailer
Is What We Do In The Shadows Worth Watching?
It has to be said, New Zealanders have a unique style of comedy that can take a bit of getting used to. That said, it won't be long before you're swept away and laughing along with the four vampire roommates.
Vampire movies have been around for a very long time but this film's unique angle on traditional lore is a breath of fresh air, with jokes and gags landing perfectly most of the time.
Despite being a comedy, the film adds layers to its characters, making them endearing and relatable, which is a rare feat for a movie of this genre.
Much like Spinal Tap, the mockumentary style is executed flawlessly, offering both aesthetic pleasures and narrative depth, making the film engaging from start to finish.
If there are a couple of downsides, I would say that the central plot itself is weak and although overall it is generally well-paced, there are moments where the film could have been tighter to maintain the comedic momentum.
But if you want some bloody good fun then you won't do better than What We Do In The Shadows. And if you want even more comedy in your life check out some great alternatives here.
American TV Series Adaptation
With five seasons and a sixth in the works, the American television adaptation of What We Do in the Shadows stars Kayvan Novak as Nandor, one of the vampires.
While the original movie was set in New Zealand, the TV series moves the setting to Staten Island, New York.
The series replicates the mockumentary style and humour of the original but introduces new characters and storylines, adding layers to the vampire lore explored in the movie.
Its success has cemented the franchise's place in modern pop culture, attracting a broad audience with its unique blend of humour, horror, and emotional depth.
What We Do In The Shadows Movie Cast
Taika Waititi (Thor: Love and Thunder) as Viago von Dorna Schmarten Scheden Heimburg (né von Blitzenberg), aged 379 and an uptight member of the household.
Jemaine Clement as Vladislav the Poker, aged 862 and a former tyrant with extreme powers.
Jonathan Brugh as Deacon Brucke, aged 183 and the “young rebel” of the group who is fond of knitting, erotic dancing, and “being cool”.
Ben Fransham as Petyr, aged 8,000. He lives on the bottom floor of the flat in a stone coffin and generally keeps to himself.
Cori Gonzalez-Macuer as Nick who is recently turned by Petyr and must rely on help to navigate his way through his newfound eternal life.
Stu Rutherford as Stu, Nick's best friend.
Jackie van Beek as Jackie, a human and Deacon's familiar who cleans up after the vampires and connects them with potential victims.
Rhys Darby as Anton, the leader of a local pack of werewolves.
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