Theatrical Review: Daybreakers

In a brief ten-year period, an epidemic of vampirism has swept the planet, making most of the population vampires with a small amount of regular humans kept alive to be “farmed” and have their blood harvested for the rest of the population. Civilization has continued for the vampires, still living their regular lives, but making the adjustments for their new condition, and most of the population has embraced this condition with a small few seking an alternative to this life. One corporation, Bromley Marks (The World Leader in Blood Pharmacy) is the leading supplier of blood to the vampire population, and their supplies are now running low. A hematologist for the company, Ed Dalton, seeks to come up with a blood substitute and is edging closer to success, but not quite getting there yet. If the vampire population is deprived of human blood, then they start to degenerate to something much more feral and fearsome, even to the rest of the population. Ed Dalton is a reluctant vampire though, refusing to drink human blood himself, and slowly is starting to fall prey to the condition that’s starting to take the rest of the population. Ed has a chance encounter with a small group of humans one evening that starts to change everything.

That’s the basic premise to Daybreakers a new movie written and directed by Australia’s Speirig Brothers, and for me, this is a welcome addition to what seems like a spate of vampire movies that more romanticizes the field. Daybreakers plays with the concept in some interesting ways, especially with the way life is lived after the condition strikes, but at the same time fully recognizes that it is a horror movie, but laced with some science fiction and speculative fiction ideas. Some of the cooler ideas are being cars that are customized so that vampires can drive during daylight hours, or in the cities, the construction of underground Subwalks that still let the vampires travel from building to building during the day.

But this is a vampire movie, and it doesn’t shy away from the violence inherent within the genre, so in addition to these ideas, you can certainly expect to see a good level of good old R-rated violence that goes with it, and the Speirig’s are quite adept with it as well, even being involved with some of the films more technical aspects.

They’ve got a nice cast here, headed up by Ethan Hawke as Ed Dalton. Hawke plays this quite earnestly and is pretty rock solid. And that pretty much is true for the rest of the cast as well, which includes Claudia Karvan, and always welcome appearances by guys like Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill.

Daybreakers does some fresh stuff with the genre as well as giving it it’s teeth back so to speak. It’s a briskly paced film that recognizes that it is a B-movie and has some fun with it’s genre, and it certainly entertained me. This may not be the best movie that I’ll see in 2010 (and by that, I mean the type of thing that really sticks with you), but I certainly thought it was a good start and a nice little diversion.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

10. January 2010 by Darren Goodhart
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