What we do in the shadows

What we do in the shadows is a mockumentary about a group of 5 vampires who are flatting together in an old, gloomy Victorian Gothic house in the suburbs of Wellington. This film takes Gothic fiction and twists it round into a hilarious comedy about how vampires live their day to day lives in a small country like New Zealand in the year 2014. The film was directed by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement.

In the film there are 5 main characters that are all vampires, they each have their own Gothic traits and give the viewers an eery feeling about them, even though the film makes it into a comedy. The creator of the film uses this gothic element by making the vampires dress in clothes from medieval times and shows us the powers that they have like being able to shape shift and fly, but at the cost of having to kill and suck blood from humans. The house that the vampires live in is filled with old Victorian furniture and has a creepy vibe to it, it looks incredibly old and it looks as if it hasn’t been painted or had any new furniture put into it for hundreds of years. All of the vampires still sleep in wooden coffins except for Petyr, who lives in a concrete coffin. Petyr is the oldest vampire out of the five and he has lived for over 8000 years. He doesn’t speak a word of English at any point during the film and just hisses when asked questions.

Petyr in my opinion has the most Gothic traits out of all the vampires as he is always dressed in black robes, has no hair and has incredibly pale skin. There are some camera shots of him floating around the house and then looking out the window to the cameramen at the last second, just like a horror film. I personally think Petyr is the scariest vampire because we don’t get to see his true personality or know anything about him, other than him being hostile to everyone during the film. All we know about him is that he’s a historic vampire that lives in a basement inside a concrete coffin and doesn’t show any emotions or empathy towards people. Whenever there is a shot of him in the film he makes us feel uncomfortable and vulnerable but the other vampires show a lot of care towards him and trust him, this is shown in the film when a vampire hunter breaks into their basement and Petyr dies, He was trapped in sunlight which caused him to catch fire and die. Vladislav runs down to help him but he comes back saying “I was too late”, this changes the mood of the film and causes the other vampires to feel sad and depressed about what happened to Petyr because they felt like he was their leader because he turned them all into vampires.

Another gothic trait that was used in the film was the use of costumes and setting of the environment. The Gothic house was full of old antiques such as gold picture frames around oil portraits and old dark coloured carpets and rugs randomly spread out across the house. There was also alot of taxidermy, old candles and animal skeletons hanging up, this set the scene to be creepy and old and it looked as if the house hadn’t been touched for centuries. This represented the gothic element of a gloomy and decaying haunted house, which makes us feel scared and put off. this escalated the elements of gothic fiction by them inviting some people into their house and trying to trick and deceive them. Nick (the previous human that got turned into a vampire later on) got chased by the vampires as they tricked him into eating worms, as he was desperately trying to escape the house all of the doors were locked and he was being hunted by the other vampires. this also portrays the other element of supernatural beings and monsters being in the film and intense emotions being shown as he tried his best to escape from the house.

Overall this film uses many Gothic elements to try and scare us and make us feel very uncomfortable while watching the film, although they do balance the film out with comedy to laugh at some of the cliche Gothic themes it still makes us feel off edge, scared and empathy for the love they have towards Petyr. It has the Gothic elements of horror, blood, supernatural creatures, death, darkness, Victorian gothic settings, religion and evil. and although they seem like terrible people for taking lives just to drain peoples blood we still feel worried for the vampires if they are in danger or hurting.

by Caspian.


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Caspian,

    Thank you for getting your response in on time to receive feedback.

    You have clearly identified gothic elements in your text and you are able to give examples of how these were used.

    I want to see you move away from using the plot as your evidence. Try to use specific quotes or descriptions of camera techniques used in the text to support your analysis rather than just plot events. Also look to include further discussion around the social context of the text and authors intentions.

    Mrs. P


Respond now!