With October 1st looming only 80 days from now, its not too early to brush up on horror movies in preparation – but do me a favor – leave the 2009 Spierig Brothers “Daybreakers” off your watching list.
The infamous “Twilight” movie series brought to the forefront the vampire craze a decade ago. Since then we’ve been bombarded with an over saturation of undead movies and shows, and “Daybreakers” clearly attempted to cash in on the wave.
Its 2019 and a vampire outbreak has taken its grip on the entire world, with pockets of humans that refused to be assimilated scattered about in a failed attempt at resistance. We’re treated to grisly deaths as one would expect, and gruesome imagery that’s included for nothing more than shock factor.
The plot consists of hot button political issues transformed into this post-normal society where vampires are the norm. There is a shortage of human blood and as a result, a large pharmaceutical company is working on a blood substitute while the military forces are doing things the old fashioned way – hunting down the remaining humans.
Ethan Hawke plays Edward Dalton, a hematologist vegan type who, while he’s a vampire, refuses to touch human blood, relying only on the synthesized stuff his company is producing. Like today’s climate issues that threaten endangered species, humans in this case are the species that’s dying off, but Dalton is intent on re-population, despite the strong opposition from those in power.
There are cool aspects of “Daybreakers,” like the glowing orange eyes of the vamps or the completely empty daytime streets in the large cities of the United States. The farming of humans is creepy, and like “Twilight,” the movie tries to normalize what we would generally think of as vampires; not bloodthirsty monsters but normal everyday folks just trying to stay out of the sun.
There’s also a lot of cheesy stuff like an Uncle Sam military recruitment poster depicting a vampire version enlisting youngsters to “join the vampire army to capture humans.” We also see a sickening subset of the species called Subsiders that are the bottom feeders and dregs of a vampire society.
Unlike “Twilight,” Edward Dalton (isn’t the name of the main character in “Twilight” Edward too?) hates being a vampire, and when he joins a resistance led by Elvis (Willem Dafoe) and Audrey (Claudia Karvan) the whole vampire-for-life part is challenged.
The antagonists come in the form of the vampires, the army, the Subsiders, and Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) the typical evil CEO type who is in charge of the blood work Dalton is doing and of course cares more about himself and his profits than anything else.
Hawke, Dafoe, and Neill are all credible actors, and each does their best with the limitations they’re offered with the story. It gets a bit predictable of course, with Edward falling for Audrey and doing whatever it takes to turn human again. The effects are okay, but blood and violence gets used as a fall back and really destroys any worthy intentions the story itself may have.
I’m not a vampire fan, but I can tolerate a well done movie. “Daybreakers” is below average, and in the end is just something we’ve all seen many times before.
by – Matt Christopher