USA / AUSTRALIA 2009   Directed & Written by: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig  Produced by: Chris Brown, Bryan Furst, Sean Furst   Cinematography: Ben Nott   Editing: Matt Villa   Music: Christopher Gordon   Cast: Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan, Harriet Minto-Day, Mungo McKay, Emma Randall, Michael Dorman, Alison Bromley

The Spierig brothers’ DAYBREAKERS was probably never bound to become a milestone of modern vampire cinema, but it still turns out way better than all the latest teen dramas disguised as vampire films that waste a lot of time and money to turn a GOSSIP GIRL-like post-puberty soap into a genre flick.

We prefer DAYBREAKERS any time, but of course not all’s perfect. The plot starts with an interesting premise: vampires rule the earth and humans are about to be extinct, serving only as cattle in blood farms to satisfy their new masters. However, on the brink of extinction the vampires face a dilemma: no more humans means no more blood supplies. So the vampire race is destroying the very basis of their existence by having a human for dinner every day.

Ethan Hawke as scientist tries to find a cure, whereas his boss want a remedy – it’s all about repurchase, not about a real solution. One day Hawke meets the human resistance who are convincing him to work on a solution as this means hunting humans or keeping them looked up as involuntary blood donors would be obsolete. The master plan is to save the human race without pissing of the vampires.

This all sounds pretty good at first and DAYBREAKERS starts strong. The world ruled by vampires is crafted well and the film gears more towards conflict and drama than becoming another vampire shooter. Although it definitely doesn’t lack gross moments as well. The fascinating idea of a vampire world of course resembles similar ideas from other movies (exchange vampires for a) aliens or b) zombies or c) whatever you think fit), and the almighty drug-producing corporation is somewhat a commonplace now and bears little surprises. Where else can the evil hide if not in an evil corporation?

DAYBREAKERS stops short of repeating the mistakes of other genre films though and doesn’t focus too much on a “who’s the bad guy behind it all” ending. Instead the Spierig brothers put more efforts into their idea of a cure, the aspect of how the vampire society resembles ours, and the conflicts within the vampire elite. Some things may feel a bit constructed, but overall they came up with a bunch of fairly nice ideas.

Having said that we also have to mention that from halftime on DAYBREAKERS becomes more erratic: up to this point we are happy to buy into what we’ve seen so far, but the second half of the film is spinning a bit out of control, especially as far as logic and character / story development are concerned. Many plot points and things people do are not believable, the editing gets sketchy and the film feels rushed during most of its second half. The ending makes up for it, even though we sense a whole lot of wasted opportunities here.

DAYBREAKERS may not work too well for genre fans, but offers an interesting blend of science fiction, end-of-the-human-race scenario and vampire flick that may take too many liberties at times (borrowing heavily from the zombie genre for instance) to be actually a “vampire film”. It’s more like a SciFi film with vampires in it.

On a positive note we could interpret the vampires as a metaphor for the human race consuming all their resources until they’ll finally have to feed on themselves or die the dinosaur death. Are whaling and the world’s troubled eco systems the inspiration for DAYBREAKERS? Maybe. We’d like to believe that the film is more than just another vampire saga, but is made in the best tradition of the genre that has always dealt with mankind and its flaws as much as Christianity and questions like sins and their punishment, eternity, or simply heaven and hell. In the context of mankind’s modern day worries DAYBREAKERS makes for a fine comment on the status quo of our civilization.

Several key parameters (e.g. the sun and its reinterpretation of what it does to vampires; the search for a cure for the deranged species and not a way to kill them faster, better and more efficient) put DAYBREAKERS closer to the original subtexts of the vampire genre than to modern fairytales like the TWILIGHT saga. Once more the vampires are the allegory of human sinners roasting in eternal inferno and only by literally becoming pure at heart again they can find redemption.

DAYBREAKERS is at least trying to be the thinking man’s vampire movie. It succeeds half-way, maybe a bit more. For the sincere effort we give it one bloody thumb up.



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2 Responses to “DAYBREAKERS”



  2. CMrok93 Says:

    There is no denying that the production values of Daybreakers are superb; the sophomore directing duo fill every inch of their frame with some startling effects work and detailed production design.

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