Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: The Spierig Brothers
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Ben Nott
WRITERS: The Spierig Brothers
MUSIC: Christopher Gordon
The Australian twin brothers, Michael and Peter Spierig, return behind the camera with “Daybreakers”, a new attempt at the overdone vampire film. This latest take introduces the audience to a world where an unknown plague has transformed much of the population into blood suckers. For ten years, the creatures of the night have been hunting humans for their blood and now only a small amount of humans remain.
All of the blood is supplied by Bromley Marks, a pharmaceutical company run by the evil Charles Bromley (Sam Neill). Due to the dwindling population of the human species, Charles has his main hematologist, Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), working on a blood substitute. If they don’t find a substitute and the vampires have no more human blood to feed on, they will all turn into bat-like creatures known as sub-siders.
Edward wants to find a substitute so vampires won’t need humans anymore. Charles, on the other hand, wants the substitute so that they can allow the human race to grow again so that he can profit off selling the real thing. Eventually, Edward meets Audrey (Claudia Karvan), a human who runs a small resistance with the help of Lionel “Elvis” Cormac (Willem Dafoe).
They want Edward’s help in finding something more serious than a substitute. They want a full blown cure.
First things first, the film is better than other recent vampire films like, say, “Twilight”. However, that does not mean that it is necessarily good, either. The movie starts off very strong with a unique story of vampires being just as desperate as the humans are. They are also trying to save themselves from becoming total monsters.
The only problem is that the man who has the resources to save them is Charles, a man who still concerns himself more with profits than salvation. Blood is the new oil and an alternative source must be found. The social message is far from lost.
Unfortunately, the script soon turns into another generic action film with uninspired action scenes and underdeveloped characters that the audience finds hard to care for. The lack of character development comes from the fact that the flick is way too short. Coming in at just under 90 minutes, the film does not allow for the plot to truly come into its own.
On the acting side of things, the cast does the best job that they could have with what the script gives them. Willem Dafoe, for example, is really good as Elvis but the corny, clichéd dialogue is so bad that Dafoe cannot even save the day.
Hawke’s Edward is also reminiscent of another depressed vampire with the same name except Hawke at least has a purpose in this film. While Hawke is a much better actor than the always constipated Robert Pattinson, the character is just another sad and lonely vampire. The lack of a strong hero is another missed opportunity that makes the film barely miss its mark.
Visually speaking, the film can be beautiful at times. The constant use of a deep blue tint and the visualization of the sun appearing through cracks in the shadows make the film sometimes look like something out of a graphic novel. While the Spierig brothers got the script wrong, their direction of the movie is dead on.
With missed opportunities and a story that is way too short for its own good, “Daybreakers” proves to be a rather disappointing ride that die hard vampire fans can wait to see when it is finally released at the local Redbox.