What We Do in the Shadows

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What We Do in the Shadows
What We Do in the Shadows poster.jpg
New Zealand theatrical release poster
Directed by [1]
Produced by
Written by
  • Jemaine Clement
  • Taika Waititi
Music by Plan 9
  • Richard Bluck
  • D.J. Stipsen
Edited by
Distributed by Madman Entertainment
Release date
Running time
85 minutes[2]
Country New Zealand
Language English
Budget $1.6 million
Box office $6.9 million[3]

What We Do in the Shadows is a 2014 New Zealand mockumentary[4] horror comedy film about a group of vampires who live together in Wellington, that is written, directed by, and starring Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014.[5][6] The film was theatrically released on August 18, 2014 by Madman Entertainment. The film earned $6.9 million on a $1.6 million budget.



Four vampires—Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr—share a flat in the Wellington suburb of Te Aro. Although Viago, Vladislav, and Deacon are all several centuries old, they have retained normal human appearances, but the 8,000-year-old Petyr resembles Count Orlok and acts more savagely than the younger vampires. Each night, Viago, Vladislav, and Deacon prowl the streets of Wellington searching for people to kill, but they must stay in the flat during the day to avoid sunlight—which is lethal to vampires—therefore they have not adapted to 21st-century life. Deacon has a human servant (familiar)—Jackie—who runs errands for the vampires, but she is frustrated that Deacon will not turn her into a vampire. Jackie leads her ex-boyfriend Nick to the vampire's flat so they can drink his blood: he escapes before they can kill him, but as he leaves the flat, Petyr attacks him and later turns Nick into a vampire.

Two months later the vampires accept Nick into their group and also bond with his human friend Stu, a computer programmer who shows them how to use modern technology. Nick struggles to adapt to life as a vampire and carelessly reveals his secret to strangers he meets in bars and clubs. One of these strangers, a vampire hunter, breaks into the flat during the day and kills Petyr by exposing him to sunlight. The vampires are furious when they discover Nick has indirectly caused Petyr's death, and banish him from the flat. The police arrive to investigate a reported disturbance and Viago is able to hypnotize them so they don't see the blood or the dead body of the vampire hunter.

Some time later, the vampires receive an invitation to a masquerade ball, where they meet other undead and supernatural beings such as zombies and witches, as well as Vladislav's ex-girlfriend Pauline, whom he nicknames "The Beast" due to their hard break-up. Nick, Stu and Jackie also attend. To Deacon's annoyance, Nick has turned Jackie into a vampire. When Pauline realizes that Stu and the camera-crew are human, the other guests try to kill them and Vladislav fights Pauline's new boyfriend. The vampires manage to escape the ball with Stu and the film-crew, but encounter a group of werewolves who are about to transform in a forest. Stu and one of the cameramen are caught and attacked by the werewolves. Assuming Stu is dead, the vampires grieve for him.

A while later, Stu (having been turned into a werewolf himself) reappears—eventually reconciling the werewolves with the vampires. Nick and the other vampires also resurface. Despite their differences with Nick, the other vampires have adapted to early twenty-first century life, relationships, and technology by the film's end.


  • Taika Waititi as Viago, aged 379 – the uptight leader of the household.
  • Jemaine Clement as Vladislav, aged 862 – a former tyrant with extreme powers.
  • Jonathan Brugh as Deacon, aged 183 – the "young rebel" of the group who is fond of knitting, erotic dancing, and "being cool."
  • Ben Fransham as Petyr, aged 8,000 – a Nosferatu-like vampire who lives on the bottom floor of the flat in a stone coffin and generally keeps to himself.[7][8]
  • Jackie Van Beek as Jackie – a human and Deacon's familiar who cleans up after the vampires and connects them with potential victims.
  • Cori Gonzalez-Macuer as Nick – an intended victim who is turned into a vampire by Petyr.
  • Stu Rutherford as Stu – Nick's best friend who introduces the vampires to modern technology.
  • Rhys Darby as Anton – the leader of a local pack of werewolves.
  • Ethel Robinson as Katherine – the love of Viago's life.
  • Elena Stejko as Pauline – Vladislav's ex-girlfriend whom he calls "The Beast."
  • Karen O'Leary as Officer O'Leary – an officer who gets called to the vampires' house.
  • Mike Minogue as Officer Minogue – an officer who gets called to the vampires' house.


The film is based on a 2006 short film of the same name by Waititi and Clement. The new film was shot in Wellington in September 2012, and is Waititi's first feature since Boy.[5][6]

Stu Rutherford was initially told he would only have a bit part in the film so he would act more natural when filming his parts. Waititi revealed that there was so much footage filmed that three cuts were made: one focused primarily on jokes, one focused on story, and the final cut, a mix of the two.


The film was released in a limited release on February 13, 2015 in New York City and Los Angeles, followed by a rare screening in San Francisco, Irvine, Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.[9] The film received a regional release in the U.S. in March 2015, by Unison Films in association with Funny or Die and Paladin Pictures.[10]

Critical responseEdit

What We Do in the Shadows received critical acclaim and has a "Certified Fresh" score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 156 reviews with an average rating of 7.8 out of 10. It is rated #68 on the website's list of Top 100 comedies of all time. The critical consensus states: "Smarter, fresher, and funnier than a modern vampire movie has any right to be, What We Do in the Shadows is bloody good fun."[11] The film also has a score of 76 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews.[12]

Fearnet called the film "a great vampire comedy".[13] Film School Rejects wrote a predominantly positive review, commenting that some of the film's broader moments fell flat but compared it favorably to similar mockumentaries such as Best in Show.[14] The film was warmly received by UK newspapers, with The Guardian's film critic Peter Bradshaw describing it as "the best comedy of the year",[15] while The Telegraph's Tim Robey found it "desperately funny".[8] Film International, in a positive review, commended the film for noting, with a double of Count Orlok locked in the vampires' basement, that the true vampire film tradition is repressed by the current craze.[16] Variety was more critical, writing that "Some genre fans who prefer the silly to the satiric may bite, but the anemic pic isn't remotely weird or witty enough for cult immortality."[17]

Box officeEdit

What We Do in the Shadows grossed US$2 million[18] in New Zealand and $3.4 million in the US.[citation needed]

Home mediaEdit

What We Do in the Shadows was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 26, 2014 by Weltkino Filmverleih.[citation needed]

Sequel and spin-off seriesEdit

A sequel to the film, which will focus on the werewolves depicted in What We Do in the Shadows, is currently in development. Originally rumoured to be titled What We Do in the Moonlight, the working title was later announced as We're Wolves.[19][20]

In September 2016, it was revealed that Waititi and Clement are planning a procedural comedy series based on the cops, Karen and Mike, who had minor roles in the film titled Paranormal Event Response Unit. The series is being funded by NZ On Air by granting Waititi and Clement $1 million to produce six 30-minute episodes for the series, which will air on New Zealand channel TVNZ 2.[21][22]


  1. ^ "Review: What We Do in the Shadows". Mancunion, William Green, 15th November 2016
  2. ^ "WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "What We Do in the Shadows (2015) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "Review: 'What We Do in the Shadows' is the First Must-See of 2015". FirstShowing.net. 2015-02-27. Retrieved 2015-06-03. 
  5. ^ a b "Taika and Jemaine unleash vampires in USA". The New Zealand Herald. Auckland. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Sundance debut for Kiwi vampire spoof". Stuff.co.nz. The Dominion Post. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "What We Do In The Shadows DVD Review". The Hollywood News, By Jazmine Sky Bradley - Apr 10, 2015
  8. ^ a b Robey, Tim (21 November 2014). "What We Do in the Shadows, review: 'Desperately funny'". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  9. ^ Barton, Steve (29 January 2015). "What We Do in the Shadows Is Quote Critics!". Dread Central. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  10. ^ Gingold, Michael (13 February 2015). "'WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS' creators reveal what they didn't do Critics!". Fangoria. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "What We Do in the Shadows (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  12. ^ "What We Do in the Shadows Reviews". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2015-06-03. 
  13. ^ Weinberg, Scott (17 March 2014). "FEARNET Movie Review: 'What We Do in the Shadows'". Fearnet. Archived from the original on 19 March 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  14. ^ Campbell, Christopher (13 March 2014). "SXSW 2014 Review: 'What We Do In the Shadows' Is Also a New Vampire Classic". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  15. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (20 November 2014). "What We Do in the Shadows review – best comedy of the year". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  16. ^ Sorrento, Matthew (28 February 2015). "So It Goes in What We Do in the Shadows (2014)". Film International. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  17. ^ Nelson, Rob (24 January 2014). "Sundance Film Review: 'What We Do in the Shadows'". Variety. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  18. ^ "What We Do in the Shadows". Box Office Mojo. 
  19. ^ Chavez, Danette (2015-08-17). "What We Do in the Shadows Is Getting a Sequel." AVClub.com. Retrieved 2016-01-04.
  20. ^ Saathoff, Evan (25 January 2016). "WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS Follow-up Gets A Snappy Title". 
  21. ^ Ritman, Alex (September 30, 2016). "Taika Waititi Planning 'What We Do in the Shadows' TV Spinoff". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 September 2016. 
  22. ^ "What We Do In The Shadows TV spin-off on the way". Radio New Zealand. September 30, 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016. 

External linksEdit