What We Do in the Shadows

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
What We Do in the Shadows Movie Poster Image
Quirky vampire mockumentary has lots of blood.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 86 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Underneath the humor and vampire-related gore, the movie makes a case for friendship and connection. Even though these are monsters, they get lonely, too, and find that things work better with cooperation and understanding.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are likable, but they're too silly to be real role models.

Violence

Lots of bloody vampire-related gore, but it's intended to be comic. A bit jugular vein sprays blood. Bloody messes. A vampire burns in sunlight. A vampire hunter is crushed and his head twisted backward. Floor covered with bones and other remains. Some jump-shocks. Unsettling vampire makeup. Views of a torture chamber. Images of old paintings depicting violence. Fighting. A character turning into a vampire has a bloody neck wound and bleeding eyes. A character vomits blood. Werewolves tear a man to pieces, though mostly off screen and through shaky footage. An arrow in the leg.

Sex

Strong innuendo; some flirting. Quick shot of a man in an "orgy" with three women. Images of old paintings depicting naked people and sex, as well as an image of a penis. A naked man is shown, with his penis pixilated out. The suggestion of a vampire masturbating in his coffin (the lid moves up and down).

Language

Relatively infrequent strong language includes uses of "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," "a--hole," "penis," "hell," "bitch," and "ass." Words are often said quickly and in thick accents, so they're not always intelligible.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some scenes in nightclubs show characters drinking socially. Vampires occasionally appear to be drinking liquor from glasses, although it could be blood.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that What We Do in the Shadows is a horror comedy about vampires, shot in a fake-documentary style. It's from the New Zealand comedians behind Flight of the Conchords, so FOTC fans will definitely be interested. It's mostly intended to be funny, but there's still a lot of blood and gore, including a spurting jugular vein and huge bloody messes, as well as fighting and some scary images. Images meant to look like old paintings depict some violence and sex, and there's a brief image of an "orgy" (a vampire with three women on a bed), a shot of a naked man with his penis pixilated out, and some strong innuendo. Language includes a few uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more. Some scenes take place in nightclubs or bars, and there's some background drinking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byParent_of_Teens May 17, 2015

Not your kids' type of vampires

I think there is a generation gap in the way we think of vampires these days, thanks to the Twilight series and other movies. Parents should be aware that thes... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old May 8, 2015

Violent Vampire Mockumentry

This vampire mockumentry is quite funny, but also very violent. One scene includes a dudes main artery being cut with blood going everywhere. There are a few se... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bysydnisan December 20, 2016

Hilarious satire

I was expecting good things from this movie and I was not disappointed. The fact that vampires and mockumentaries are overdone is one of the things that makes i... Continue reading

What's the story?

In New Zealand, four vampires share a flat together. There's 862-year-old Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), once known for torturing his victims; 317-year-old Viago (Taika Waititi), who's a "dandy" and likes to hold house meetings; 183-year-old "youngster" Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), a self-stylized bad boy; and demonic-looking 8000-year-old Petyr (Ben Fransham), who lives in the basement. The quartet invites a documentary crew to film their daily lives, especially the annual Unholy Masquerade, where Vladislav dreams of being the guest of honor. Meanwhile, one of their intended victims, Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), has been turned into a new vampire, and he and his human pal, Stu (Stu Rutherford), create new kinds of trouble for the veteran vamps.

Is it any good?

Even though mockumentaries and vampires have both been done to death, this movie still manages some good ideas -- and a few hearty laughs. Clement is best known as half of the cult-fave duo Flight of the Conchords, and Waititi was also part of the show, working as a writer and director. They also made the comedy Eagle vs. Shark together. Now the pair teams up as co-stars, co-writers, and co-directors on WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS.

One of the funnier bits centers around the concept that vampires don't cast a reflection; the friends must draw sketches of one another as they get dressed up for a night on the town to make sure they look sharp. At other times, they play games with the mirror, making objects float in front of it. These little side jokes, as well as behaviors and relationships, are often funnier and more interesting than the movie's main plot twists -- as well as the "mockumentary" stuff -- but there are enough of them in the movie's loose structure that it never gets dull.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the What We Do in the Shadowsviolence. Does the blood and horror shock you? Make you laugh? What's the difference between violence intended for humor and the more realistic kind?

  • What purpose does the movie's innuendo serve? Is it funny? Is it respectful? How far does the movie go in terms of sex?

  • What's the appeal of vampires in movies? How do these vampires compare to others you've seen? What other movie vampires are referenced?

  • How does the "fake documentary" format contribute to -- or detract from -- this story?

  • How are friendship, cooperation, and teamwork incorporated into the story?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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