Daybreakers

Daybreakers

 

Ok, ok, so it’s probably not going to revolutionize anything and maybe it’ll become just a cute little staple like so many 80’s horror junk is to us now, but I had fun with “Daybreakers.” The crazy gorehound/effects artists/writer/director/ambient sound recording/twins from down under, The Spierig Brothers new film puts a twist on the vampire genre and provides us with some social commentary-lite.

Welcome to the future: where vampires have overrun society and turned it much into what it is now, except they conduct business at night. The film doesn’t explain how mankind was overtaken, but it does offer the fact that as things were getting bad, humans were offered assimilation, but most refused. Those that didn’t convert were either farmed (ie. captured and are now being used for blood) or hiding. And there are naturally fewer humans. So, naturally there is a growing drought of human blood. Because, you see, vampires can not feed off of other vampires. Nope, blood is very tricky in this film. In this case, vampire blood leads to mutations (and quicker mutation if you take from your own blood) which created a underground race called the Subsiders. These subsiders are disgusting Nosferatu-like creatures. They have turned from lack of human blood. The ones who drank from the vampires…well, they are just a wee bit stronger. It is almost as if the human blood is preserving the humanity (or false visual façade) of these creatures.

With a lack of blood, a blood substitute is needed. The streets are full of the impoverished. Children are starving. So are adults. The cost of the remaining blood is getting higher and higher. Supply is running out!

Ethan Hawke plays a human-hugging vampire working on a blood substitute who gets tangled up in a bunch of mess when he finds himself helping some fugitive humans. Of course, one such fugitive is Willem Dafoe, who just happens to have the cure for vampirism. This is not greeted with joy however. For some, they do not wish to go back to the weaknesses of humanity. But more importantly, blood is big business. And there are now huge corporations. A cure is bad for business!

I liked a lot of what the Brothers did in this film. I liked the cute touches (a shot of Ethan Hawke through the rear view mirror—remember, vampires cast no reflection) and a lot of the low-fi effects that are mingled in with the blockbuster feel of the film (notice the hand animated car crashes and things—they stick out, but somehow they work, maybe). I liked how the film was played serious, yet the brothers smile. Notice the one scene where Hawke’s blood substitute is first tried. This is a dramatic scene, yet our Aussie vis-whizes play for a big laugh. We must laugh, this is a funny situation right? A vampire world! Right?

Finally, I probably give it some points due to the fact that I have respect for any film (and namely filmmakers) who can step up to the next level and still put their fingerprint on their work. The Sperig Brothers are all over the film, for better or worse. This is there’s, mostly, not just some gun for hire stuff.

The actors are all serviceable. Given Dafoe’s talents, I think he is intentionally hamming it up somewhat here. Well, why not, I suppose. At the end of the day, you realize you just watched a bunch of folly, but for the most part it’s enjoyable. And given the crap horror we’ve recently been exposed to, we should encourage it. Of course, you may have trouble seeing this until it hits home video, as the viewing public has promptly neglected it, and most theatres have giving it the boot. But hey, Saw VII is coming in October!

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