Daybreakers: A Vampire Flick with Fangs

11 01 2010

Pop culture has been flooded with vampires recently (thanks in large part to the Twilight frenzy).  From the Underworld movies to True Blood on TV, vampires are everywhere…and everyone is trying to reinvent them.  Garlic is OK, but crosses are out…silver kills them, but sunlight makes them sparkle…and so it goes, with endless reinterpretations and combinations borrowing from thousands of years of storytelling.  Daybreakers attempts to carve its own space in the vampiric panoply.  Here’s the breakdown:

Ethan Hawke’s Edward (yes, another unfortunate Twilight comparison) is a vampire, living in a world where vampires vastly outnumber humans.  As a blood researcher, he is trying to find a human blood substitute; humans are becoming extinct, and vampires are beginning to starve.  Without human blood, the vampires slowly turn to feral creatures, complete with wings and pointy ears.  Edward’s boss (Sam Neill) runs a human blood-harvesting company and would rather see a way to increase production of human blood than find a permanent substitute.  Enter “Elvis” (Willem Dafoe), a human with a secret past…and a possible cure for vampirism.

The Monkey: In a world full of vampire rip-offs and hundreds of vampire interpretations, Daybreakers was surprisingly original.  Seeing Edward’s suit float in a mirror was a wonderful nod to the whole “vampires don’t have reflections” myth (one that is often absent in modern re-tellings).  Coffee with a percentage of blood in it.  Cars with “day-time driving mode.”  The premise itself was rather original…vampires are usually the underground, secret, minority characters.  In Daybreakers, vampires are the norm, the majority, and humans are the few, the minority.  And the conflict grew naturally out of the premise…what happens when the blood runs out?  Even the method with which our heroes find the cure was very original (and worked wonderfully on film).

The action was exactly what you expect from a R-rated vampire thriller…tons of blood and exploding vampires (which made for a cool night-time shoot-out scene).

Sam Neill, Willem Dafoe and Ethan Hawke carried the movie well in their respective roles: Neil as the villian, Hawke the tortured hero and Dafoe, the foul-mouthed one-liner (and he had some great one-liners!).

The Weasel: Daybreakers won’t change the genre.  The dialogue was painful, the monochromatic set-pieces became boring.  An intensely gory, violent scene towards the end of the movie was so over the top it elicited laughs from the audience.  A plot thread involving Neill’s daughter was so underdeveloped it was distracting.  The ending left it open for a sequel, but I don’t see the need to return to the story.

Daybreakers set out to be a fun, gory, action-packed vampire thriller.  It accomplished that and a bit more, infusing original concepts into a genre that is quickly becoming stale.

3 Death Stars out of 5

What did you think?  Tell me what you thought of Daybreakers in the comments!

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2 responses

7 04 2011
Amy

Not just because of the actor, but this movie brought to mind Gatacca. the concept of not being to par with the rest of the world and the ‘minority species’ getting ‘closure’

8 04 2011
Dustin

Good comparison! Stories that tackle these types of issues immediately become more interesting and layered to me.

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