Daybreakers (2009)

Not the Coen's, but far from the Strauss'

The year is 2019. A plague has turned nearly all of the world's humans into vampires. A vampiric corporation sets out to capture the remaining humans and farm them while they search for a blood substitute to replace the ever-lessening amount of blood left in the world. Lead vampire hematologist Edward's (Ethan Hawke) work is interrupted by a band of human survivors, led by former vampire "Elvis" (Willem Dafoe), who has a cure that could save the human species from extinction.

What I primarily liked about this film is how it took such a well known genre and took it into unfamiliar territory, by making vampires the dominant species and humans the near-extinct species who are forced into hiding to survive, as opposed to vampire films which traditionally take the complete opposite approach. I also felt that the film did a particularly good job in showing how vastly different a vampire populated world is from the world we know, as cars are fitted with cameras to replace mirrors and full-on protection against the sun, while characters are seen constantly smoking, as none of them would end up dying of cancer from the constant smoking, and I particularly liked how the filmmakers did not bring this up front and center or stuff this explanation within somebody's dialogue.

Another good touch was how just because the world's species has changed, their everyday lives have not suddenly jumped into something vastly different,the inhabitants still cue for a drink before hopping on the train to go to work, some are still homeless, there's still law enforcement policing the neighborhoods. It's things like these that make me realize how well the Spierig brothers (the directors) have realized this world. They also manage to very well show off how the blood shortage affects the world, as well as how it would severely change the world, by introducing the subsiders, which are vampires who have gone without blood for a long amount of time, leaving them to have taken on bat-like features and become rabid and mindless, showcasing a terrifying possible future if a solution is not found for the blood shortage.

The film manages to utilize colours effectively in order to demonstrate the differences between the bleak vampiric world that operates at nighttime by using dark colours such as blue and black, while colours like yellow and gold represent the bright daytime where humans come out when the vampires retreat and hide.

Ethan Hawke plays Edward Dalton, the typical sympathetic vampire who's story arc won't give off many surprises, but I have to say, I was quite surprised how easily the human survivors trusted Ed when they brought him to their hideout. I know they must have realized how trustworthy he could be after protecting them from the law enforcement, but the fact that not one character acted hostile towards him in the slightest way possible, I just find that very odd. This role was the first I've seen of Ethan Hawke in a film, and to be honest, I felt he played the role a bit too bland for my liking.

Sam Neill plays Charles Bromley, the head vampire of the main blood supplier in the vampire world. Neill played the role off too much as the typical mustache twirling villain, but I did like the difficult relationship he shared with his daughter.

Evil, cold-hearted bloodsuckers known better as the Fox executives

The film doesn't go through with explaining many of the mysteries well. Take the origin of the plague, it isn't explained, all we are told is that it began with a single bat. And then there's the cure, which really comes about thanks to a stroke of dumb luck, and then is only expanded upon as a plot convenience in the last act.

The gore is definitely overdone, and the action sequences don't leave you as excited as they should do. Also, we are given an annoying character in Frankie (Michael Dorman), Edwards younger brother, who doesn't contribute much apart from unnecessary drama and, like the cure, being a plot convenience in the last act.

The last act of the film is where my main problems lie, as it is filled with sudden revelations of convenience and characters who pop out of nowhere to be of service only once, ultimately making the last act feel like a major anticlimax that just leaves you thinking "Is that it?"

Daybreakers is a film that does a brilliant job in subverting expectations for a vampire film and perfectly realizing how different and how similar a world inhabited by vampires would be. But the film does suffer from unengaging characters, action sequences that don't get your pulse racing as much as they should be, an extreme overuse of unnecessary gore and a last act that can only be described as an anti-climax that disappoints.


Matt Stewart said…
Thanks for the help with the stars man! And great review, i really need to see this one.
Aditya Gokhale said…
I hate disappointing endings...anticlimaxes are the worst things to happen to a film.

The starcast looks appealing though. I like Sam Neill and Dafoe.

Perhaps I will keep this in mind but won't look it up right away.

Great review dude!
Jesse P said…
The year 2019 as been told over and over again in stuff like this... Soylent Green, Blade Runner, Akira. Now this

It's great to see my country finaly hitting bigger markets with our Films but overall the film is "Meh". Great Concept though, Skip Undead their before film.

Nice review Dude!