What We Do in the Shadows


Release: Friday, February 13, 2015 (limited)


Written by: Jemaine Clement; Taika Waititi

Directed by: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi

It’s once again cool to bust out your vampire get-up for the next Halloween party because these guys have just made being an ugly, putrefying member of the undead so totally hip. Even I, one of Dracula‘s biggest naysayers, wants a sweet cape.

If you’ve been entranced by musicomedy duo Flight of the Conchords, a televised show/live performance featuring the inseparable Kiwis Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie this film has your name written (in blood) all over it. Their brand of humor runs amok in this mockumentary about several vampires struggling to just get by in the 21st Century, all while anticipating and preparing to attend the annual Unholy Masquerade hosted in their fair town of Wellington, New Zealand. This film is such an amusing spin on the vampire legend that being a dedicated fan isn’t a matter of eternal life and death.

What We Do in the Shadows sucks-eeds on a number of levels. Aside from that being possibly this blog’s worst pun yet, it’s also paramount to understanding why you’ll walk away from this fangtastic comedy feeling completely refreshed and satisfied with how you’ve spent your money. Consistency is difficult to find in comedies, much less those of the contemporary variety, but there is no better word to describe Shadows, apart from echoing critics’ chosen adjective: hilarious. From the performances to the frightful wardrobe; the subversion of vampiric lore to the commitment to being ridiculous, this is a product that delivers on its promises from the opening frame of being a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

The film invites you in with a frank discussion between two roommates attempting a diplomatic approach with a third, much lazier roommate, the 183-year-old Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), who hasn’t done the dishes in at least five years. Clement’s Vladislav and Taika Waititi’s Viago, both several centuries Deacon’s senior, are understandably upset. Tensions have literally risen to the ceiling and added to this the fact that their fourth roommate, 8,000-year-old Petyr (Ben Fransham) doesn’t exactly try to voice his concerns. Quickly the tone of the film is set, although direction is a little harder to nail down.

Shadows, while thoroughly ridiculous, knows not to forsake tradition, however. Some of its funniest moments come from demonstrating the “mild inconveniences” of having to suck blood to stay alive. Because they cannot expose themselves to sunlight the gang has to prowl the streets at night looking for new “friends,” and also because of other technicalities, they often find themselves denied the chance to enter night clubs since they’re never invited in. A friend of Deacon (a human female, as it so happens) tricks her ex-boyfriend Nick into coming over to their house to eat what he thinks is a hearty bowl of spaghetti. Uh, it’s not. It’s actually pasghetti, thank you very much, and it looks remarkably similar to a bowl of live worms. A chase ensues when the guest refuses to eat and Nick, despite his best efforts, may never be the same again.

Several other humorous vignettes transpire before we get to the main event: the Unholy Masquerade, and I refuse to reveal anything more about those sequences. While tensions among the roommates are being documented in each scene, this is where things really start to unravel for Vladislav in particular. As he’s expecting to become the featured guest of this year’s Unholy Masquerade, it’s no surprise he is crushed when he hears that not only is he not the guest of honor but instead it’s none other than his ex, whom he describes — in a scene that had me crying from laughter — as “that damn Beast.” All hell breaks loose at the dance when Pauline (a.ka. “The Beast”) quickly sniffs out the human members among Vladislav’s crew — Nick’s computer engineer/dorky friend Stu is one such individual, as are the people filming the documentary — but luckily enough our gang escapes the angry mob of undead.

Shadows may be loosely strung together in terms of plot, but when the gags come in such rapid succession and the characters are this entertaining, basic structure fades into the background. It’s easy to sit back and eagerly anticipate the next twist in the adventure. The addition of human Stu is a brilliant reflection of our own wide-eyed reactions to these bloodthirsty drama queens. He’s also someone the vampires actually take kindly to, as he introduces them to the conveniences of Skype and smart phones, assimilating these creatures slowly into the modern age.

It’s a pretty difficult world to get by in if you’re a mere mortal, but if you’re a vampire good luck trying not to go insane figuring out what the point is of things like Twitter and Instagram.


4-5Recommendation: What We Do in the Shadows pulls off an impressive feat of remaining funny, engaging and clever from beginning to end while creating several interesting riffs on the vampire genre. For fans of anything Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi have done this inspired documentary is an absolute must. It basically is for anyone in search of one of the year’s better comedies. The sun hasn’t come up yet, but this has a good chance of staying alive for a long, long time. Fantastic bit of creative energy out of New Zealand. Check it out.

Rated: N/R

Running Time: 86 mins.

Quoted: “What are we?” / “Werewolves, not swear-wolves . . .”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

49 thoughts on “What We Do in the Shadows

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  4. Whew! Glad you liked this! 🙂 I just got a copy to screen. I will come back to your review after I have watched it. Looking forward to this one. Going to review it down the line. So much good buzz on this flick.


    • I really hope you’re not let down my friend. I remember the anticipation I had going into this and then thinking there was no way the film would live up to it. And then it did….

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Another fantastic review on this! I am going to have to track this down, it looks like it is well worth the watch! Can’t wait!


    • Definitely a whacky film, it’s not for everyone. I think for fans of anything Clement and Waititi have done though it’s just about perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, awesome. Can’t wait to see this now. How have I missed it? I don’t know, but thanks for helping me find it again, Tom.


    • How did I miss this comment?! Lol! Sorry about that V! Yeah, I’m glad to hear if put it back on your radar. Anyone a fan of these crazy Kiwis ought to take well to the shenanigans of WWDITS. It’s already a favorite of mine of 2015

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey, glad you opened up your comment section again. I so want to see this movie!! I might even see it this weekend. I’ve seen Clement in a few things, that guy is hilarious. This premise just sounds like comedic gold and sounds like they pulled it off.


    • 😀

      WWDITS is definitely exploding across the blogosphere. I also couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I think 8/8 is slightly sensational but at the same time I didn’t feel as though the 7/8 would have done it justice. There were a few parts that dragged here and there but wow, as far as comedies go you can’t get much more consistent and fast-paced gags than what this brings. Hope you enjoy it as well Ruth!


  8. Hell yes!! Agreed with everything you said. So glad people around the world are digging this! I’m psyched, I saw it last september at the cinemas and loved it but wasn’t sure how the humour would translate overseas. It obviously has done well, I keep reading massively positive reviews!

    Great write up Tom, again, I’m lovin that you loved this! 😀


  9. Excellent! I love the NZ sense of humour having lived there for six months. This came out over here a few months ago but I missed it. Damn! Eight slices too! Double damn!!


    • Oh man, unfortunate luck! Well, you have something to look forward to on VOD or rental. Absolutely killer comedy, and that was not an intentional play on words haha

      Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed sir! It had heart, humor, hot women and a whole bunch of great times wrapped up in an extremely digestible 86-minute runtime. Glad you enjoyed too.


    • I’d like to say the hype is worth it. Perhaps my perfect score factored that excitement I carried into the theater with me a little but I still stand by it. This was a very very funny and enjoyable film. Hope you enjoy Vinnie

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes you are indeed. Flight of the Conchords fans can rejoice in a new film. I need to see Eagle Vs. Shark, apparently I totally missed out on that one. . .

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great to see this one still doing the rounds, man. I absolutely loved it. By far the funniest film from last and one of the best comedies I’ve seen in recent times. This had me genuinely creasing myself all the way through it. So much so, that’s my missus was getting pissed at me howling the house down.


  11. I’ve watched it twice already and it gets funnier when you anticipate the jokes. The laughs are very much a part of the “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” type humor. I predict this will become a cult classic.


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