What We Do in the Shadows: 2014 hidden gem

Three of the vampires, Deacon, Viago, and Vladislav, present at the Unholy Masquerade event.

Photo courtesy of Mark Benecke

Three of the vampires, Deacon, Viago, and Vladislav, present at the Unholy Masquerade event.


The 2014 film What We Do in the Shadows is a hidden gem mockumentary that balances comedy and genius. Codirectors Taika Waititi, known for his most recent film Jojo Rabbit, and Jemaine Clement walk the thin line between entertainment and vapidity, especially in a film about vampires, but pull off a masterpiece designed for almost everyone.

The mockumentary filmers follow a group of vampires: Deacon, Viago, Vladislav, Peter, and Nick who share a flat in New Zealand. Each of these vampires have different backstories, personalities, and ages (ranging from 20 to 800 years) so their hilarious characteristics form a creative plot. At the same time, though, they all fulfill the norms of being a vampire – drinking blood, burning in the sun, being invited in, etc.

Notably, the directors are in tune with converting a fantastical idea to real-life. Between referencing the teenage drama Twilight and giving viewers the innocent software analyst Stu (whose actor worked as IT on the film and had no previous acting experience), this film puts the 300-year-old theories into a comprehensible perspective.

Many films of this category incorporate social commentary into their humor, which What we do in the Shadows accomplishes perfectly and bluntly. Cleverly, the directors use the normals of vampire behavior, like mind control, to swap the norms of our societies. One of the human characters, Jackie, is controlled by Deacon and throughout the movie pleads to be a vampire and free from her ‘master.’ At the end of the movie, her wish is granted and in a closing scene with her husband after he says that he loves her, she responds with “Great. But I am your master.” The irony paired with the bluntness ties into the film’s overall fine balance between censored and unconfined commentary.

In just an hour and a half, this bizarre and creative movie overlaps mockery, commentary, and humor for a guaranteed enjoyable time.