Summer Weekend Review: What We Do in the Shadows

We have a recent film up for summer weekend review this time around, an engagingly funny look at vampires, created by the duo behind Flight of the Conchords.

Title: What We Do in the Shadows

Cast and Crew
Directed and written by
Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi

Jemaine Clement as Vladislav
Taika Waititi as Viago
Jonny Brugh as Deacon
Cori Gonzalez-Macuer as Nick
Stu Rutherford as Stu
Ben Fransham as Petyr
Jackie van Beek as Jackie
Chelsie Preston Crayford as Josephine
Elena Stejko as The Beast
Jason Hoyte as Julian
Karen O’Leary s Officer O’Leary
Mike Minogue as Officer Minogue
Frank Habicht as Phillip
Ethel Robinson as Katherine
Morgana Hills as Child Vampire 1
Morag Hills as Child Vampire 2
Rhys Darby as Anton, werewolf
Simon Vincent as Matt, werewolf
Cohen Holloway as Dion, werewolf
Duncan Sarkies as Declan, werewolf
Nathan Meister as Nathan M, werewolf
Tanemahuta Gray as Nathan G, werewolf


A documentary crew follows a crew of vampires as they go about their nightly routines. Turns out people who are centuries old, have only problematic human contact, and can’t see their own reflection become staggeringly unhip, socially clueless, and sartorially hilarious.

High Point:

Although we get the obligatory reference to Twilight, the film draws heavily on older vampire lore, the things we knew about vampires before Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance and the other varied bastard children of Anne Rice spread to every corner of the media. What We Do in the Shadows takes the lore, more-or-less at face value, and then shows how absurd it is, when placed in a mundane context. Along the way, the film offers amusing social commentary, but not so much as to overwhelm the film’s essential, charming goofiness.

Low Points

The film starts a little slow and lasts a little bit too long for its premise.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 Vampires have been done to undeath by this point; the fact that this film found anything original in them amounts to an accomplishment.

Effects: 4/6 The movie’s effects prove as mixed a lot as its vampires. Make up is excellent. The fake blood gushes pass as comic stylization. The transformations make reasonably good use of CGI.

Production: 5/6

Acting: 5/6 The acting fits with the overall silliness of the movie. The characters who say little to nothing– aged, Nosferatuesque Petyr and the two child vamps– have unnerving presence.

Story: 5/6 The movie does a good job of taking its disparate faux-documentary threads and weaving them into a coherent whole. Some pacing issues take it down a point.

Emotional Response: 5/6 Not since Buffy have we had such an impressive, irreverent look at the vampyr mythos.

Overall: 5/6 This film isn’t quite the night-creature equal of This is Spinal Tap, but it comes close enough to merit watching.

In total, What We do in the Shadows receives 31/42.