Thursday, March 1, 2012

Movie Review: Daybreakers (2009)

Much like 30 Days of Night, Daybreakers was another vampire movie that I avoided seeing for a long time because I thought I would hate it. It looked too stylized and perfect for my taste and preference for what a vampire movie should be. I also didn't know anything about the plot, and if I had, I probably would have given it a chance sooner. It may not be for everyone, but I somewhat enjoyed this flick.

In 2019, years after a plague has turned most of the world into vampires, the human population is rapidly dwindling. Edward Dalton, a vampire and scientist at the world's largest "human farm," has been working with a team to develop a blood substitute to make up for the lack of human blood supply. But when a ragtag group of humans offers him the chance to introduce a different way to fix the problem, he dares to go against his own kind and the most powerful vampire in the country to end the populace's suffering.

I really like this story. Remember in Blade when Deacon Frost says "We should be ruling the humans! These people are our food!"? I've always had that same thought. So finally with Daybreakers we have a movie that explores the possibility of vampires being the dominant species on the planet - and the downsides that come along with it. However, these vampires are not necessarily evil. In fact, they're almost just like they were when they were human. They do have the insatiable bloodlust (which they can now buy at restaurants and coffee kiosks) and the enjoyment of immortality, but they've also had to put a lot of work into certain technological modifications to their cars, homes, and buildings in order to function during the day.

The story doesn't veer too far off from the traditional lore of the vampire, which pleases me. They burst into flames when exposed to sunlight or when staked through the heart, and have the cute little fangs and glowy eyes. The only point where the movie goes off in its own direction is in the exploration for a cure for vampirism, which I don't completely get. Sunlight apparently can both kill and cure vampires in Daybreakers - a limited amount of UV actually somehow manages to jumpstart their heart and turn them human again. Um, if you say so, I guess. One thing they included that I thought was hilarious was how much all the vampires smoked. Because, really, why shouldn't they? That was a nice little detail.

Ethan Hawke isn't really in a lot of movies anymore so I couldn't remember if I like him or not before I watched this movie. I guess he did a nice job but I wasn't totally blown away by his performance. Sam Neill is dead sexy as a greedy vampire king. He's smarmy and unlikable, but he wasn't evil enough in the role. He didn't seem like that big of a villain or threat for Ed and the humans. Willem Dafoe was still slightly off-kilter as he always is but he was at his most enjoyable here for me.

There is some fairly hardcore gore in Daybreakers with people being bitten and ripped in half, which was a lot more than I expected. The transformation of the blood-deprived vamps turning into bat-like creatures was nice and the makeup was really great on them. However, there is a bit of the evil CGI and CGI blood that we all dread, especially in the scene where the bat breaks into Ed's house but that was the only time I really noticed it. Overall the film is very stylish and sleek, with a lot of clean lines and muted coloring. They make very good use of shadows in specific scenes that make it look really cool.

Looking at it, I probably shouldn't like the movie as much as I do because it is very reminiscent of the Underworld films, which I'm not a fan of. Daybreakers worked for me, though. I'm not jumping through hoops at its amazingness, but it was genuinely entertaining for the time it took to watch it.


  1. I'm a big fan of vampire-lore films so I may give this a shot, though I've never heard of it. The UV jump-starting the heart to make them human sounds quite silly, but probably no less daft than the UV bullets in Blade!

  2. I didn't think it was that similar to Underworld, even thought the concept was clever. This was the first must-see movie of 2010, and I enjoyed pretty much everything about it.

  3. Saw this on a plane. Everyone was watching it on their own screens, which meant that every half hour or so someone would yell as the soldier exploded on the operating table.

  4. Great review for a surprisingly great movie.
    When I first saw the teasers and trailers, Lame was the word that came to my mind - but then I couldn't resist and rented it from my local store and my goodness, it quite blew me away.
    Brilliant story, a fantastic script, fascinating characters and some great acting. I love Daybreakers!

  5. Love, love, love, love, love, LOVE Daybreakers!! At first, when I heard about this movie I thought "Oh great ANOTHER vampire movie. Damn you Twilight!!" But this movie kicks Twilight's ass! Love it!!