ETHAN HAWKE WILLEM DAFOE SAM NEIL
The Australian produced vampire thriller Daybreakers is somewhat a product of the vampire movie craze brought on by Twilight. However Daybreakers attempts to take itself very seriously with its premise of a world dominated by vampires drying up the human race with their thirst. Written and directed by the Spierig Brothers (Undead, The Big Picture) this is the first time one of their films is getting American attention. With Oscar nominee Dafoe having flirted with vampire films twice already in his career (Shadow of the Vampire, The Vampire’s Assistant) he seems like a natural; Hawke (Training Day, Gattaca) is better here than in most of his recent film flops and I can’t help but think Neil (Jurassic Park, The Horse Whisperer) was placed into his by the button role due to his Australian heritage.
During the daylight hours you will rarely see someone outside, everyone sleeps while the sun shines, but at night the world is alive with normal activity. The year is 2019 and nearly all the world’s population has been turned into vampires who need blood to survive like humans need water. With human blood being the most pure and satisfying, the human population is nearing extinction. Vampire doctors like Edward Dalton (Hawke) work for a cure to save the human race, while businessmen like Charles Bromley (Neil) only look for more ways to extort more money for the high demand of blood. When a former vampire reveals he has found a way to reverse the process the powers at be will stop at nothing to preserve their blood thirsty immortality.
I don’t mind supernatural or futuristic films when they do stick as close to a reality we can relate to and for the most part Daybreakers does that better than most films in the same genre. The Spierig Brothers clearly have respect for their creation here and in the small running time of the film they manage to use detail to increase the viewer’s interest in the plot. Unfortunately with vampires being such a hot commodity another vampire flick just seems redundant and unnecessary. Daybreakers would likely find itself in company like Whiteout or 30 Days of Night but is certainly more memorable and tasteful.
Gore is certainly a part of the vision here as heads are chewed off, bodies burnt alive and exploded; it’s far too violent to be an American mainstream film which the fact that it is from overseas only works to its credit. The script takes the worst things about any functioning society and simply uses those elements (greed, control, supply and demand) in this world that is run by vampires. Also working on a smaller budget limits the amount of ridiculousness the film makers could get into. As far as vampire movies go this one isn’t half bad, as far as horror thrillers go, you are likely to see more “excitement” here than in a film done by an American studio.
Final Thought – Decent action and gore combined with a thoughtful concept makes this work most of the time.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Jennifer Gih