Movie Review: ‘What We Do In the Shadows’

Director: Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement

Cast: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jonathon Brugh, Stuart Rutherford, Rhys Darby

Plot: A documentary crew follow a small group of vampires who share a flat in Wellington, New Zealand, as they go about their ‘lives’ and prepare for the annual ‘Unholy Masquerade’.

Review: You might initially be thinking that the last thing the world needs right now is another vampire movie. Not entirely true – it needed this vampire movie. In a rather cheeky move the posters for the movie have simply taken the word ‘hilarious’ from every review and used it as a quote. There’s certainly no faulting the accuracy of this.

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Living in the spooky old house is four very different vampires. There’s the Anne Rice style Viago, a former dandy, the Vlad Tepes based Vladislav who describes his style as ‘dead…but delicious’, similar to The Lost Boys bloodsuckers is Deacon and the Nosferatu lookalike Petyr in the basement. For the most part they four are stuck in the past, happy spending their time blending in with the humans and luring in their prey, until a newly turned vampire helps them befriend a human.

Much like the mockumentaries of Christopher Guest the actors improvised their material during filming, and it’s a testament to their talent that they maintain such over the top characters perfectly, never missing a step. The jokes flow thick and fast. We saw What We Do in the Shadows in a crowded cinema and didn’t go a minute without the crowd laughing out loud. None of the humour feels forced or relies on a convoluted set up, it’s just one perfectly timed response after another. When they explain why they prefer virgins…it’s just spot on.


Also: put down newspaper.

Unlike many modern vampire flicks this one is decidedly old school, with cruciforms, garlic and sunshine proving fatal. There’s some great practical effects on display and they slot perfectly into every scene. The rope and harness approach to flying may look dated compared to modern effects but it carries with it a charm of its own that fans of The Lost Boys will appreciate. The effect of Viago appearing in a backpack is a awesomely achieved as it was simple.


With an industry of comedy movies based on showcasing the persona of a big star, it’s not often enough that we get a treat like this. The people making this movie were clearly making it because they found it funny themselves, and that humour and love for the project pours off the screen. We haven’t had something come out of left field and been so funny and joyful since Shaun of the Dead. If you’re not doubled over laughing by the end of the first encounter with the werewolves then…well…you’re just not cool.

Rating: NINE out of TEN