The vampires are back but with a new twist in the Spierig brothers film Daybreakers starring Ethan Hawke and William Dafoe. Rick, my esteemed college, already did a great job in his review from last week so I won’t go into too much details besides my pros and cons.
In a world filled with overly hormonal and emotionally immature vampires running around, it was actually nice to see the undead of the night get some genuine creepy respect. The fact that vampires have now taken over society and are living the ‘manic Mondays’ is a fun and interesting interpretation. They catatonicly go to work, wait for public transportation, and have rebellious teenagers. In one scene with a group of vampire teenagers, it would have been ironic if they were all reading a the latest romance novel about a vampire falling in forbidden love with a human! But I digress. The environment Daybreakers created was quite interesting. It was blend of the ordinary and the fantastic. The world reminded me of a remix of Matrix and Gattica (another favorite Hawke movie)- where it’s strangely familiar and totally foreign at the same time. The coffee shops serving blood instead of creamer was a nice touch. I especially liked the feral, beast-like mutants that were a result of vampires feeding off their own blood. They were pretty freaky and vampires becoming the victims is an interesting twist on things.The first half of this movie was great. I love bizzaro world tales and how a culture can be perverted and yet remain so familiar. Even if you are a blood thirsty predator, you still gotta pay bills and take care of your family. Oh, there are also a few jumpy scenes if you are into that kinda stuff.
Unfortunately Daybreakers went from undead to dead by the second half of the movie. It’s like the vampiric monsters I mentioned earlier, the movie fed off itself until it mutated and went crazy. While I generally enjoy Hawke and Dafoe, the story really slipped away and became problematic. The plot digressed into the typical ‘hero with the cure on-the-run’ type climax which is so predictable. Plus the crux of the ‘cure’ is based on very unconvincing science. They just didn’t sell it well and it ultimately hurt the film. I can’t criticize it more without spoiling it but I just didn’t buy into it. I mildly enjoyed the final ‘domino effect’ sequence but couldn’t fully appreciate it because I couldn’t suspend belief long enough to enjoy it. A small spoiler; Hawke is far more interesting as a vampire than his human counter part which contributed to the momentum loss of the film. There were a lot of extra stuff and storytelling that also convulted it by the end. By the finale, I was starting to feel a bit undead as well.
Overall, Daybreakers showed much more potential than it followed through with. This alternate reality of a vampire filled world was very fascinating, eery, and chilling. Ironically, when the story transitions to the humans, it seems to lose all it’s life. So if you see Daybreakers, go see it for the world it created versus the world it tries to save.