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
Produced by
Written by
  • Jemaine Clement
  • Taika Waititi
  • Taika Waititi
  • Jemaine Clement
  • Rhys Darby
  • Jonathan Brugh
  • Cori Gonzalez-Macuer
  • Stu Rutherford
Music byPlan 9
  • Richard Bluck
  • D.J. Stipsen
Edited by
Distributed byMadman Entertainment (New Zealand)
Paramount Pictures
The Orchard (North America)
Release date
  • 19 January 2014 (2014-01-19) (Sundance)
  • 19 June 2014 (2014-06-19) (New Zealand)
  • 13 February 2015 (2015-02-13) (United States)
Running time
85 minutes[1]
CountryNew Zealand
United States
Budget$1.6 million
Box office$6.9 million[2]

What We Do in the Shadows is a 2014 New Zealand-American mockumentary[3] horror comedy film written, directed by, and starring Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. The screenplay concerns a group of vampires who live together in Wellington.[4] It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014.[5][6] The film was theatrically released on 18 August 2014 by Madman Entertainment. The film earned $6.9 million on a $1.6 million budget.


A documentary crew (who are wearing crucifixes) follows four vampire roommates—Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr—who 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—and thus 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 as he has promised. Jackie leads her ex-boyfriend Nick to the vampires' 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 analyst who shows them how to use modern technology such as YouTube (to watch sunrises) and cameras (so they can see themselves). Viago in particular is able to find Katherine, his love from many years past, now an old woman in a rest home in Wellington. Despite being able to get his new friends into more popular bars and clubs, Nick struggles to adapt to life as a vampire and carelessly reveals his secret to strangers he meets. 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, using the infamous Procession of Shame, from the flat.

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 nicknamed "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. Stu saves Vladislav by impaling Pauline's boyfriend on a stick. 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, and eventually reconciles the werewolves with the vampires, who allow them to stay in their flat with them. Nick also resurfaces and is accepted back into the home. Viago reconnects with Katherine, turning her into a vampire and ensuring they can be together forever.

Scenes during the credits reveal that Vladislav has gotten back together with Pauline and Jackie has made her husband her new familiar. A post-credits scene shows Deacon attempting to hypnotize the audience to forget the events of the film.


  • Jemaine Clement as Vladislav, aged 862 – a former tyrant with extreme powers. Clement based his performance on Gary Oldman's Dracula.[7]
  • Taika Waititi as Viago, aged 379 – an uptight member of the household. Waititi based his performance on his own mother.[7]
  • 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.[8][9]
  • 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.
  • 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. He is strict of his friends to ever swear for their motto is "Werewolves not Swearwolves".
  • Ethel Robinson as Katherine – the love of Viago's life.
  • Elena Stejko as Pauline – Vladislav's ex-girlfriend whom he calls "The Beast".
  • Jason Hoyte as Julian – Pauline's new boyfriend when she broke up with Vladislav. he shows to have a big nose and "warts" on his face.
  • 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 2005 short film—What We Do In The Shadows: Interviews With Some Vampires—written and directed by Waititi and Clement, and starring Jonny Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer and Stu Rutherford in their roles of Deacon, Nick and Stu respectively.[10] The feature film adaptation was shot in Wellington in September 2012, and was Waititi's first feature since Boy.[5][6]

Stu Rutherford, an IT technician and high school friend of Waititi's in real life, was initially told he would only have a bit part in the film so he would act more natural when filming. He did not realise his role was so important until the film's premiere.[11]

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.[12]

According to Waititi and Clement their favourite vampire films were The Lost Boys, Bram Stoker's Dracula and Interview with the Vampire.[13] All of those movies are heavily quoted or referenced in the film, along with many other genre films such as Blade, Twilight and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.[citation needed]


The score for the film was composed by Plan 9.[14] The film's opening credits feature the song "You're Dead" by Norma Tanega, after Clement and Waititi were introduced to the song by film editor Tom Eagles.[15][16] The film's trailer and ending feature the song "Lastochka" by the Russian rock band Leningrad.


The film was released in a limited release on 13 February 2015 in New York City and Los Angeles, followed by a screening in San Francisco, Irvine, Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.[17] The film received a regional release in the U.S. in March 2015, by Unison Films, The Orchard, and Paramount Pictures in association with Funny or Die and Paladin Pictures.[18]

The film was heavily pirated. After the shutting down of a piracy website based in Mount Wellington, Auckland, the website revealed that, at 277,000 downloads, 'What We Do in the Shadows' was one of its most heavily pirated films.[19]

Critical response[edit]

What We Do in the Shadows received critical acclaim and has an approval rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 172 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."[20] The film also has a score of 76 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[21]

Fearnet called the film "a great vampire comedy".[22] 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.[23] 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",[24] while The Telegraph's Tim Robey found it "desperately funny".[9] 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.[25] 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."[14]

Box office[edit]

What We Do in the Shadows grossed US$2 million[26] in New Zealand and $3.4 million in the US.[citation needed]

Home media[edit]

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


A sequel to the film, focused on the werewolves depicted in What We Do in the Shadows, was in development, but stopped due to some unresolved production issues. Originally rumoured to be titled What We Do in the Moonlight, the working title was later announced as We're Wolves.[27][28]

Short films[edit]

What We Do In The Shadows: Interviews With Some Vampires[edit]

Produced in 2005, this short was a precursor to the feature-length film. It was written and directed by Waititi and Clement, and starred Jonny Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer and Stu Rutherford in their roles of Deacon, Nick and Stu respectively.

Vampire's Guide to Vellington[edit]

In June 2014, Waititi, in conjunction with Discover New Zealand, produced a promotional short film titled Vampire's Guide to Vellington, in which he reprises his role as Viago von Blitzenberg.[29][30]


Wellington Paranormal[edit]

In September 2016, it was revealed that Waititi and Clement were planning a procedural comedy series based on the police officers, O'Leary and Minogue, who had minor roles in the film, titled Wellington Paranormal.[31] The series producers granted Waititi and Clement $1 million to produce six 30-minute episodes for the series, which aired on TVNZ 2 from 11 July 2018.[31][32][33] The character Nick from the film also appeared in the episode "A Normal Night".[34] New Zealand On Air announced that a second season with thirteen episodes will air in 2019.[35]

What We Do in the Shadows[edit]

An American version of the film was developed as a television series. A pilot was ordered by FX, which featured Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, and Harvey Guillen. Executive producers of the show include Clement, Waititi, Scott Rudin, Paul Simms, Garrett Basch, and Eli Bush.[36] On 3 May 2018, FX picked up the pilot, with an order of ten 30-minute episodes which premiered on 27 March 2019.[37]


  1. ^ "WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  2. ^ "What We Do in the Shadows (2015) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Review: 'What We Do in the Shadows' is the First Must-See of 2015". FirstShowing.net. 27 February 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Review: What We Do in the Shadows". Mancunion, William Green, 15 November 2016
  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. ^ a b Darren Richman (29 March 2017). "Movies You Might Have Missed: Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's What We Do in the Shadows". The Independent. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  8. ^ "What We Do In The Shadows DVD Review". The Hollywood News, By Jazmine Sky Bradley - 10 April 2015
  9. ^ a b Robey, Tim (21 November 2014). "What We Do in the Shadows, review: 'Desperately funny'". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  10. ^ "What We Do In The Shadows: Interviews With Some Vampires (2005)".
  11. ^ "IT guy turns accidental film star". Stuff.co.nz. 8 June 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Taika Waititi Reveals What It Was Really Like Starring in Ryan Reynolds Flop Green Lantern".
  13. ^ https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/vampire-mockumentary-what-we-do-in-the-shadows-heading-for-cult-status/article22956380/
  14. ^ a b Nelson, Rob (24 January 2014). "Sundance Film Review: 'What We Do in the Shadows'". Variety. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  15. ^ Rob Hunter. "32 Things We Learned From the What We Do In the Shadows Commentary". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  16. ^ Ashley Hefnawy (13 February 2015). "Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi Shine a Light on 'What We Do in the Shadows'". Shutterstock. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  17. ^ Barton, Steve (29 January 2015). "What We Do in the Shadows Is Quote Critics!". Dread Central. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  18. ^ Gingold, Michael (13 February 2015). "'WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS' creators reveal what they didn't do Critics!". Fangoria. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  19. ^ Drinnan, John (5 November 2015). "Global piracy site run out of house in Mt Wellington". NZ Herald. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  20. ^ "What We Do in the Shadows (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  21. ^ "What We Do in the Shadows Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (20 November 2014). "What We Do in the Shadows review – best comedy of the year". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  25. ^ Sorrento, Matthew (28 February 2015). "So It Goes in What We Do in the Shadows (2014)". Film International. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  26. ^ "What We Do in the Shadows". Box Office Mojo.
  27. ^ Chavez, Danette (17 August 2015). "What We Do in the Shadows Is Getting a Sequel." AVClub.com. Retrieved 2016-01-04.
  28. ^ Saathoff, Evan (25 January 2016). "What We Do in the Shadows Follow-up Gets A Snappy Title".
  29. '^ 'Vampire's Guide to Vellington. 8 June 2014 – via YouTube.
  30. ^ "Wellington Vampires make their mark as capital turns into 'Vellington'". wellingtonnz.com. 10 June 2014.
  31. ^ a b Miska, Brad (19 December 2017). "'What We Do In the Shadows' Police Spinoff Retitled to "Wellington Paranormal"". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  32. ^ Ritman, Alex (30 September 2016). "Taika Waititi Planning 'What We Do in the Shadows' TV Spinoff". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  33. ^ "What We Do In The Shadows TV spin-off on the way". Radio New Zealand. 30 September 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  34. ^ Gerardi, Matt. "What We Do In The Shadows' incompetent cops to get their own TV show in 2018". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  35. ^ "13 new episodes of Wellington Paranormal will air in 2019". Stuff. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  36. ^ Ratcliffe, Amy (27 October 2017). "Taika Waititi Says a WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS TV Show Is in Development". Nerdist. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  37. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (3 May 2018). "'What We Do In The Shadows' Reboot From Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi Gets FX Series Order". Deadline. Retrieved 4 May 2018.

External links[edit]