Daybreakers *** out of **** Spill Rating: HIGH MATINEE!
Over the last couple years, the vampire genre has had a gigantic resurgence. Just in the last few years we've had 30 Days of Night, Let the Right One In, Twilight, New Moon, Thirst, Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant and now Daybreakers. Out of the classic movie monsters, the vampire is one that has always been updated every generation, while Frankenstein and the Mummy get lost in the dust. (No pun attended) While some of these listed are good (Let the Right One In, and 30 Days of Night), the others, like New Moon and Cirque Du Freak, remind us why vampires are sometimes some of the most annoying characters ever put to screen. Fortunately, with Daybreakers, the Spierig Brothers have concocted the most original vampire film in recent memory.
In the year 2019, the entire Earth has been transformed into vampires. As the human population nears extinction, vampires must capture and farm every remaining human, or find a blood substitute before time runs out. However, a human-sympathizing vampire (Ethan Hawke) makes a remarkable discovery, one that has the power to save the human race.
Besides taking place in the future, the most original thing that the Spierig Brothers bring to the film is how the vampires live. They are living just like us; driving cars, watching TV, and drinking that mourning cup of coffee. (20% blood, no less!) These vampires don't have horrible accents, turn into bats, or even fall in love with depressed psycho-bitches, they are basically normal people who just happen to live off blood. My other favorite twist on the vampire mythos is what happens when vampire don't get blood. Needless to say, it would Arnold say, "You are one ugly son-of-a-bitch!".
The film is fresh air after the travesty of filmmaking that was New Moon, whose vampires and werewolves came off more as goth kids and dogs more than their scary counterparts. 30 Days of Night may have made vampires scary again, and Let the Right One In may have been a fantastic film, but Daybreakers takes the award for originality.
While I highly praise the concept, the execution leaves a little bit to be desired. While the action is shot very stylishly, (there's one shot at the end of the film that was jaw-dropping), the characters are two-dimensional and the eventual cure for vampirism becomes extremely convoluted and confusing. All the actors are good here, but none of them have any real character development besides Ethan Hawke's character and Sam Neil's evil businessman. Actually, Sam Neil's story-line is mysteriously forgotten about in the finale. (You'll see)
At only $20 million, Daybreakers also shows what you can accomplish with a small budget. Just like District 9, the special effects in both films are amazing which really begs the question; Why the hell do films like Pirates of the Carribean 3 and Transformers 2 get $300 million and still have horrible SFX? There is absolutely no excuse for that anymore. Hopefully, more directors like the Spierig Brothers will be given the chance to break out and give more original and ambitious films.
Daybreakers is a welcome change of pace from other vampire movies of late. Its concept is highly original, the special effects are great for the small budget, and contains some jaw-dropping shots. Despite the character and plot flaws, I would take this any day over The Film That Should Not Be Named. (Here's a clue, NM)