Review: Daybreakers (2010)
January 25, 2010
Daybreakers begins with a most intriguing premise. Vampires have taken over the entire world. They have successfully turned nearly every human on earth into vampires, and the few that remain are farmed for their blood. Vampires have become the new uncontested king species, and the world is now tailored to their unique needs: blood is served in coffee at the corner Starbucks, everyone is nocturnal, and all windows (even car windows) have sheet metal curtains to keep out the sun.
Unfortunately, it is exactly this total victory that has become the greatest threat to the vampires’ existence. You see, if the vampires don’t drink human blood often enough, they start to become hideous, mindless, bat-creatures that roam the sewers of the cities attacking anything or anyone who crosses their path. Until now, finding human blood wasn’t a problem, because the blood farming corporations produced an adequate supply, but after twenty years, the humans in the blood farms are starting to die off, and there aren’t enough left in the wild to replace them. Cue Dr. Edward Dalton (played by Ethan Hawke), chief hematologist for the largest of the blood corporations. He’s working on a synthetic blood substitute (and failing spectacularly.)
It’s hard not to feel a little bit like Daybreakers is the anti-Twilight. (Not that that is necessarily a bad thing.) It’s gory, and the vampires don’t sparkle in the sunlight, they burst into flames, and they explode when shot with crossbows, etc. That said, it does all feel very B-movie: the gore is over the top, but done well, the CGI is fairly middling, and there seem to be an overabundance of loud bats flying suddenly into the screen. The performances are fine: Ethan Hawke seemed a little stiff, but Sam Neill makes a fantastic blood-sipping CEO, and Willem Dafoe is as colorful as we have all come to expect as the rogue human named Elvis. The Spierig brothers (who both wrote and directed) show real talent as directors, and the pacing and editing are both excellent.
If you’re itching for a schlocky, sci-fi gore-fest, Daybreakers might just hit the spot. Don’t expect anything too brainy though, unless those brains are splattering all over the screen.
3 out of 5 zipped lips.