Review: ‘Daybreakers’

Yeah, its another vampire film, but this one deals with the global end game instead of emo teen angst.

It’s been ten years since a global outbreak has transformed the earth; vampires are everywhere and everyone. While immortality has eradicated previously unsolvable medical problems from cancer to the common cold, one key issue remains: feeding a population with a quickly disappearing food supply. As the few living human beings left are being hunted down or kept alive to farm for blood, a vampire hematologist named Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) works tirelessly with a team of scientists to find a synthetic substitute that can sustain the masses. With time running out and a population beginning to starve, another solution presents itself but one almost unthinkable to vampires… a possible cure.

While the flood of today’s love affair with vampires deal in romantic encounters, masquerades or world domination, here’s one that tackles the real problem: if everyone who wanted to be a vampire could be, who would be left to feed upon? Daybreakers is a remarkably ambitious film telling the story of a global crisis on a relatively small budget, and at least a small chunk of that is spent on all the gore and blood fountains you don’t see in Twilight sequels. While the artistic license taken in restoring human beings may intentionally mirror religious rites (a subject otherwise omitted by the production), wouldn’t it make sense that the cure is every bit as mystical as vampirism itself?

The cast has remarkable pedigree and uses it to full effect. With Hawke already taking the reluctant hero role, Willem Dafoe fills the shoes of a role model for Hawke to look up to (and an excuse to show off a few classic autos.) Sam Neill provides the soulless, undead shell of suit to both corporate greed and a complete lack of humanity, but does that really make him such a bad guy (hint: yep.) While the practical sets seem limited to a street corner, an office building, a subway, and a handful of carefully scouted location shots, the film does an incredible job of making it seem like a sampling of entire world that sleeps during the day.

The story has holes and probably could have done more with a feature budget, but the tightly wound script works within the confines of its tiny location, even the feeling of being trapped in a windowless box-like apartment while daylight waits just beyond for the chance to kill you. The ending is more than gratuitous enough for horror fans but still a bit stretched in making their point of the ending. In fact, there were a number of ways things could have ended at that point, but to suggest the most obvious conclusion may conflict with any aspirations for a franchise or sequel (which it really doesn’t need.) That said, could somebody please tell me where I can find a fanged poster of a vampire Uncle Sam?

(a three skull recommendation out of four)

One comment

  1. Frankly, I loved, loved, loved this film. The thinking behind the first 30 minutes was quite brilliant, for the reasons stated above. The ending was so gratuitous that an audience member and I started saying “Nom Nom Nom” towards the end ( and damn, Sam Neill!)!

    Seriously, though, the issue brought up- of resources and waste and greed and literal lack of humanity – was rather refreshing to see brought up in any film, never mind a horror flick.

    and no, folks, it’s not erotic to ‘turn’ someone or ‘feed off’ someone- it’s downright disturbing and makes contemplating vegetarianism very attractive.

    It’s the anti-Twilight, for which I am eminently grateful for.


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