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Archive for January 13th, 2010

Review of Daybreakers

Written and directed by the Speierig brothers who are probably best know for the Australian zombie horror comedy Undead. Approximately ten years from now most of the population has turned into vampires following what they refer to as a plague. As human numbers dwindle the blood supply is drying up. Without blood the vampires are mutating into mindless feral creatures. Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is researcher looking for a synthetic alternative to human blood. A chance meeting with a group of humans including Audrey Bennett (Claudia Karvan) leads him to Lionel ‘Elvis’ Cormac (Willem Dafoe), a former vampire who has found a “cure”. Obviously some vampires including Edward’s employer Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) don’t want to be cured.

The film creates a realistic vampire world; underground walkways are created to allow vampires to move around during daylight hours. Cars have blacked out windows and video cameras/monitors to allow them to drive during the day. The vampires are still living regular lives, living in houses with families and commuting to work. The only real difference is that the working day has moved to the night. The society still has its ruling classes and its homeless and most likely all other classes between. The film is set in America (filmed in Australia) but TV news reports explain the same things are happening in the rest of the world. The only problem I see with the plot is the whole issue of farming humans. Whilst vampire soldiers track down humans for the blood banks they seem to miss a vital part of farming: breading. The film is also really well shot making good use of its relatively low budget. The use of bright daylight scenes contrasts well with blue tinged interiors. The vampires have pale faces, yellow irises and pronounced teeth as you would expect of traditional vampires. When the vampires venture out into sunlight they burn and die, there a no glittery sparkly vampires here, this is a blood and guts vampire movie. The lack of reflection is probably a myth to far as other than this the rest of the vampires are more science fiction than supernatural fantasy, it is also irrelevant to the plot. Far more could have been made of a subplot involving Bromley’s daughter (Isabel Lucas) but these are minor complaints.

At its core the film is little more than a B movie, but a good one. The reason it works is a combination of a great concept and a good execution. The plot is a little thin but the action works well, there is just enough humour (provided by Willem Dafoe), plenty of blood and gore and most importantly likeable well acted characters. Although completely devoid of pretension it doesn’t stop it from having a deeper message. The inefficient farming of humans for their blood that threatens both the human and vampire races could easily be described as an analogy for our own misuse of the planets natural recourses. The film offers nothing particularly new to the genre so probably won’t bring any new fans to vampire movies but the already initiated should enjoy it.

Despite the two years it has taken to make it to the cinema and the graveyard release date the film is going okay at the box-office and should go into profit in its second week on release despite the competition from Avatar , Sherlock Holmes and Alvin and the Chipmunks. For this reason it may just be inline for a sequel. The story is such that a follow-up film could go various ways.

 

 

When I started star ratings last week I didn’t intend to give half marks but this film isn’t original enough for four stars but is too good for three. So three and a half stars out of five it is! I have made a decision to only award full stars. This movie has been relegated to three out of five.

 

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