January 08, 2010
Review - " Daybreakers " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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And yes, this is another vampire picture with a character named Edward. However, this guy doesn’t sparkle and mope. He
doubts and smokes. Daybreakers, “the newest anti-“Twilight” film to hit the screens, comes from brothers Michael and Peter
Spierig. This time they’re set a decade into the future, where men and women live a “normal” life – getting a good day’s
sleep, waking each night and wiping that sleep from their yellow eyes, brushing their fangs and dressing nicely to go to their
jobs. They likely can’t tell if their hair is neat because they have no reflections. And, oh, yeah, they’re all immortal.
Well, they’re immortal if they can get enough human blood. Ten years earlier, you see, there was an outbreak of a disease
that was traced to a kind of rabid bat. That snowballed into an epidemic that turned most of the world into vampires. At the
film’s start, less than 5 percent of the human population remains, so there’s a blood shortage, and if the vampires don’t get
enough of that red juice, they ... well, let’s just say they begin to change, and they don’t make very good company for
humans or vampires.
Laced with dark humor, bitten necks, flying body parts, and some wild action sequences, the Spierigs’ sometimes brooding
and sometimes effects-crazy tale comes directly out of the old school of vampire stories, but it has a welcome abundance of
twists and turns that make it fresh.
Ethan Hawke plays Edward, a depressed vampire who’s also chief hematologist at a company that runs a human harvesting
facility. It’s a place that catches then pumps humans dry, but also tries to create a blood substitute. Vampire CEO from hell
Charles Bromley runs the company with his yellow eyes focused only on consumerism of two kinds: drinking and
moneymaking. Played by Sam Neill, who knows how to channel attitudes that are both dour and evil, Bromley is one great,
vicious bad guy.
The humans, among them Audrey (Claudia Karvan) and Elvis, who are hiding from the vampires, and trying to find a cure for
vampirism in order to save the human race.
Since Edward refuses to drink human blood, and misses his long-gone human days, there’s no surprise that he comes in
contact with Audrey, Elvis, and friends. Edward also smokes a lot. But why not? After all, he’s immortal. A bunch of separate
stories eventually lump together into one that’s made up of all sorts of races against time. We’re offered a pulse-pounding
car chase (Vampires: Remember to set your vehicles to daytime driving mode), with deadly rays of sunlight coming into play;
a side story on the population of vampires rioting over blood shortages; some grisly military action (yes, it’s an all-vampire
army) accompanied by soaring choral music; and a rather interesting use of crossbows.
The Spierigs took a limited budget and crafted many of the visual shots themselves at home on their computers, though you
would never know it from the quality you see on screen. These brothers are masters of low-budget genre direction and
digital SFX. In the true spirit of indie genre filmmaking, they let their story and actors carry along the plot, but supplement it
with just the right amount of visual odyssey to transport you to a world you've never before quite imagined.
Supported by a killer cast the film creates a lush, dark universe in which the vampires won, humans lost, and now the world
just might come to an end in a bloody orgy of self-destruction, quite literally tearing itself apart. Beautifully shot and
masterfully crafted, it hits all the right notes,
delivering what can best be described as a
fun experience that doesn't for a second
cheat your brain out of the ride. This isn't a
"shut your brain off" action film. On the
contrary, it is a great piece of speculative
fiction with a lot to say about human nature
and our disregard for the limits of our
There’s a bit too much melodrama in a story
angle about Edward and his brother, Frankie
(Michael Dorman), and some overkill in the
gore department, where blood flows freely.
But no one can put down a vampire story in
which someone rides off into the sunrise.
Directed by: Michael & Peter Spierig
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan
Before vampire fatigue sets in at the multiplex, leaving anything fanged
and out for blood immediately dismissed due to an overextended trend,
please permit “Daybreakers” a few moments of your time. While
assembled with conventional visual elements and pushing a foreign oil
allegory with a decided lack of subtlety, “Daybreakers” is a genre fun
house worth the return trip to the fatigued war zone of vampiredom.
Smartly constructed and lively all around, the gloom and doom
submitted by filmmaking duo The Spierig Brothers is wildly entertaining
and appropriately gushy with gore. Against all odds, “Daybreakers” is a
In the year 2019, vampirism has taken over the world, with blood a hot
commodity. Now with human feeding options reaching an all time low,
the vampire community is waiting impatiently for a blood substitute to
reach the market. For scientist Edward (Ethan Hawke), efforts to find a
miracle cure have failed, panicking his corporate bosses (including
Sam Neill). Into his life comes a small band of surviving humans, led by
Elvis (Willem Dafoe), a former vampire who happened upon a cure for
his fanged affliction via vicious car accident, and now wants Edward’s
help to recreate it. Despite the fact that he has no fashion sense, and
wears gigantic cuffs on his jeans, he’s a good guy – someone who’s
valuable to those on both sides of the human-vampire fence. Facing a
future where vampirism could be wiped out, Edward has to choose
between an allegiance to his own kind or the humans, who offer a
brighter future far away from blood consumption.