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Daybreakers – Review

Daybreakers – Review

Apr 15, 2011

reviewed by hallo
directed by the Spierig brothers, 2009

With an all-star cast, a significant budget, and the support of Lionsgate Entertainment, Michael and Peter Spierig had everything to lose.  Clinging to a directorial track record of exactly one low budget zombie flick, these two brothers found themselves playing with the “best of the best” because of a well-written story that brought a new take on the oldest of monsters – the vampire.

In the year 2019 a pandemic disease has caused most of the world’s population to become vampires.  Instead of living in dark caves and in coffins, these vampires act like humans; going to work, playing in the park, and buying a cup of coffee at their local Starbucks (with a splash of blood mixed in of course).  Less than 5% of the population are humans, causing the blood supply for the vampires to become sparse.  Hematologist Ed Dalton (Ethan Hawk) is working to discover a blood supplement that will provide life and health for vampires without the need for human blood.  Dalton is radically opposed to the drinking of human blood and finds himself in a very small minority of vampires who seek to find a supplement or, better yet, a cure to vampirism.  Most, however, are quite content with their immortal status and are in no rush to find a cure, including the most powerful man in the “human farming” corporation, Charles Bromley (Sam Neil).  Dalton finds himself in an ethical dilemma; he must work for Bromley in order to pursue the blood supplement, but by doing so is uniting with the corporation which also farms human blood.  Bromley is not concerned with a cure, despite his own daughter refusing to become a vampire.

Dalton joins forces with a team of humans who believe they have found a cure but need a scientist to piece everything together.  Elvis (Willem Devoe) was once a vampire who turned back into a human after a torturous experience with sunlight and water.  Dalton is able to duplicate the conditions and turn himself back into a human.  The race is on to avoid the vampire army and restore humanity to the world before Bromley can bring an end to their parade.

Daybreakers is a semi-political film that scratches the surface of supply & demand and the world’s apparent desire to destroy ourselves.  So long as there is enough blood supply, everyone seems to get along just fine without too much interruption.  However, a lack of blood turns the “normal” vampires into a sub-species called “subsiders.”  These horrific looking creatures are vampirism at its worst and are a physical reminder of the depths to which humanity can sink if things no longer go our way.  The movie demands its viewers to recognize our own tendency to use freely all the resources we need for life, typically the ones we take for granted, and the consequences of those resources being depleted.

The subsiders look terrific, the effects are wonderful, and the film is beautifully shot.  Although Hawke and Defoe provide strong performances, it is Sam Neil who steals the picture.  His love and desire for his daughter to be safe, ironically by turning her into a vampire against her will, ultimately leads to her own self-destruction.  Dalton’s brother, Frankie, provides the love-hate character who is loyal to the vampire army, but desperate for a close relationship with his brother.  In the end, he saves the day.

Daybreakers is a very good vampire movie that flip-flops the conventional paradigm of blood-suckers into a world where humans are the minority.  At one point Hawke comments that he “has forgotten what it’s like to be human.”  Heaven forbid that happen to us.

Click Here to purchase Daybreakers

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