What We Do in the Shadows is a 2014 New Zealand mockumentary horror comedy film written and directed by Taika Waititi. The cast of the film consists of Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Rhys Darby, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, and Stu Rutherford.
A documentary crew follows four vampire roommates—Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr— who share a flat in the Wellington suburb of Te Aro, and have granted protection to the crew (who are wearing crucifixes) for the duration of the filming. All of the vampires are at least several centuries old, and hold special powers such as levitation and the ability to transform into animals (including vampire bats). Viago is a 379-year-old dandy from the 18th century, who originally traveled to New Zealand in the 1910s in search for the love of his life Katherine; Vladislav is a 862-year-old known as “Vladislav the Poker,” who is haunted by memories of “The Beast” that he has fought on many occasions; and Deacon is a 183-year-old former Nazi and the “young rebel” of the group who was bitten by Petyr – an 8,000 year old vampire who resembles Count Orlok and behaves like a feral animal. Each night, Viago, Vladislav, and Deacon take the bus into town and prowl the streets of Wellington for people to kill. Because they cannot enter buildings without invitation, and must stay in the flat during the day to avoid sunlight, the three have not adapted to 21st century life. The vampires also regularly encounter and trade insults with a group of werewolves, led by Anton, as part of an ancient rivalry between werewolves and the undead.
One night, Deacon meets his human servant (familiar), Jackie, who runs errands for the vampires and cleans up the gore left behind by their feeding. A married mother, Jackie hopes to attain immortality – but is frustrated that Deacon will not turn her into a vampire as promised. Deacon requests that Jackie bring virgins to the flat so that the vampires can feed on them. She lures a woman who insulted her in primary school and Nick, her ex-boyfriend from when they were 12, to the flat. While the vampires are disappointed that neither are actually virgins, they attempt to kill them anyways. The woman is killed, while Nick briefly manages to escape before being attacked by Petyr. Nick survives the attack and is turned into a vampire.
Two months later, the vampires accept Nick into their group and 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 without mirrors). Viago uses the internet to hunt down Katherine, who is now a 96-year-old widow living in a rest home in Wellington. He also finds and briefly reconnects with Philip: his old servant, who placed the wrong postage on Viago’s coffin and extended his journey to New Zealand – leaving Katherine the time to find a new love before Viago could arrive. Despite being able to get his new friends into more popular bars and clubs, Nick struggles to adapt to life as a vampire: he confides in an interview that he can no longer eat chips without vomiting blood, and misses daytime television. Nick is also held in contempt by Deacon, who resents Nick’s newfound popularity and his careless revealing of his vampirism to strangers he meets. One of these strangers, a vampire hunter, breaks into the flat basement 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 Deacon tries to kill Nick before being interrupted by a police welfare check. The police gloss over the corpses of Petyr and the vampire hunter, instead warning the vampires about the numerous fire hazards inside the flat. Once the police leave, Nick is tried by the remaining vampires: he is banished from the flat using the infamous Procession of Shame, though Stu is permitted to come as he pleases.
Several months later, the vampires receive an invitation to the annual Undead Masquerade, hosted for the local undead population of vampires, zombies, and witches. Vladislav refuses to attend after learning that “The Beast” will be attending as guest of honor, and attempts to stay home bidding on online auctions. When Viago and Deacon arrive, they find in attendance Nick, Stu, and Jackie – who (much to Deacon’s chagrin) has been turned into a vampire by Nick. “The Beast” is soon revealed to be Vladislav’s ex-girlfriend Pauline, who has gone through multiple violent breakups with Vladislav. When Pauline realizes that Stu and the camera crew are human, the other party guests threaten to kill and feed on them. The flatmates are soon joined by Vladislav, who fights with Pauline’s New boyfriend Julian to protect the humans. Julian almost kills Vladislav, but Stu saves him by impaling Julian with a large stick. In the chaos, the vampires escape the ball with Stu and the camera crew – but encounter Anton’s werewolves in the park, about to transform due to the full moon. One cameraman is disemboweled by a werewolf, and Stu becomes separated from the vampires and cornered. The vampires hold Nick back, believing the werewolves are too dangerous, and they watch as Stu is viciously mauled. Believing Stu to be dead, the vampires run away and grieve for him.
After a few days, Nick returns to the flat with Stu and Anton’s pack. Stu reveals that he survived the attack and transformed to a werewolf that night, escaping the local police – who blamed the death of the cameraman on a local pet dog. With Stu’s urging, the pack is allowed to visit the flat and reconciles with the vampires – and Nick’s banishment is rescinded. Viago also decides to reconnect with Katherine, whom he turns into a vampire and rekindles his romance with.
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.
- Taika Waititi as Viago Von Dorna Schmarten Scheden Heimburg (né von Blitzenberg)
- Jemaine Clement as Vladislav the Poker
- Rhys Darby as Anton
- Jonathan Brugh as Deacon Brucke
- Cori Gonzalez-Macuer as Nick
- Stu Rutherford as Stu