Originally Posted on January 11, 2010
Critical Value:6.5/10 Entertainment Value: 8.5/10
After the success of Twilight, a series that seemingly ruined the concept of vampire films by creating vampires that sparkle in sunlight it was a relief to hear of a film that would revert to the classical version of vampires. Vampires that die when exposed to sunlight, have no reflections and have violent urges for blood. Michael and Peter Spierig, bring us a story of a world where most of the world’s population have turned into vampires.
It is 2019 and humans are now hunted like cattle and used to farm blood for the predominantly vampire population. When a vampire is deprived of human blood for too long, they transform into deformed creatures known as subsiders. Ethan Hawke plays Edward Dalton, a researcher who is attempting to create a blood substitute that would replace the need for human blood. He is then confronted by a band of humans, who are attempting to create a cure for vampirism.
The plot has been compared to that of I am Legend, but Daybreakers is original in its execution and offers a fresh new take on the vampire concept. Unlike I am Legend, the vampires maintain an organized and civilized society and it was interesting to see the developments that were made to accommodate for a vampire population. These include city wide underground tunnels known as subwalks, so that vampires can walk during daytime, and a daytime driving mode that utilizes tinted mirrors and cameras in order to protect the driver.
The opening scene sets the tone for the film, showing that it will delve into psychological aspects of being a vampire. The opening also brings up one of the film’s flaws. Due to its relatively low budget of twenty million, the special effects are not very impressive. Other effects such as make up for the subsiders are done well, but the quality of the special effects does serve to drag the film down. Poor effects dull the effectiveness of several scenes by taking the audience out of the more realistic tone the directors were attempting to achieve.
Another disappointing factors were the acting and dialogue. Some scenes end up being unintentionally funny due to poor performances and clichéd dialogue. Daybreakers is supposedly meant to be an over the top, B-horror movie. Meaning that numerous scenes I may have thought unintentionally funny were meant to evoke humour, the only problem is that not all the humour comes from over the top scenes. One example is a scene where Edward meets the group of humans: One of them walks by and says “More damn vampires’ and another replies “He’s trying to help”. The terrible delivery makes me wish the exchange had just been removed from the script altogether. Ironically, the human distrust of Edward was shown better with non-vocal exchanges. Willem Dafoe plays Lionel ‘Elvis’ Cormac, who has some of the best lines in the film and is one of the better performances.
Another gripe were attempts to scare the audience with a recurring jump scare, it was ineffective and yet another source of laughter. Daybreakers also fails to explain certain plot points clearly. Daybreakers implies that other sources, such as animal blood, are not sufficient to maintain healthy functioning. Aside from the inference, only one line serves to provide a probable indication tha this may be the case. Although this review seems predominantly negative, I still enjoyed Daybreakers There were moments of magic that probably could have made Daybreakers one of my favourite films, if the dialogue and acting had been better. The exploration of the psychological issues a vampire would face also made Daybreakers more interesting. I did leave the theatre slightly disappointed but was still hopeful that Daybreakers would be able to usher in a new era of vampire films.