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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 81: Daybreakers

Working on some night moves

Vampires are the “hip” thing right now, along with zombies. You can blame that on the Twilight series, True Blood and all sorts of media that like to show pretty people. People find vampires to be romantic and forbidden, whereas zombies are just rotting flesh and brain chomping. It's a relief to find a current vampire movie that doesn't involve brooding teenagers confessing their eternal love for yadda yadda yadda. Throw in a little dystopian future and a dash of Willem Dafoe and you're already head and fangs above the current crop.

Daybreakers takes place in the year 2019 (that's only seven years from now. Think about that!). A plague has transformed 90% of the world's human population into vampires. The large vampire population has reduced the number of humans who have gone into hiding and blood supplies are starting to rapidly dwindle. When vampires are deprived of blood for too long, they begin to mutate into horrible bat-like creatures and flee underground. Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke, Training Day, Reality Bites) is a scientist working for Charles Bromley's (Sam Neil, Jurassic Park, At the Mouth Of Madness) corporation, Bromley Marks. Edward is working on a synthetic blood that can keep the world from starving and is secretly refusing to drink blood due to moral reasons. Edward believes that killing humans is wrong, despite the objections of his human-hunting brother Frankie. Edward begins to mutate due his lack of drinking blood and gets into a car accident with a car full of humans, led by a woman named Audrey (Claudia Karvan, The Heartbreak Kid). Edward helps the group escape the human hunters and Audrey asks Edward to help the human underground. Edward meets Elvis (Willem Dafoe, Boondock Saints, Spider-Man) a former vampire that has discovered a way to return to human form. Edward finds a way to replicate Elvis's discovery and turns back into a human. Pursued by Frankie and Bromley, will they be able to cure vampires of their undead thirst and avoid the dangerous mutated vampires?

That's a whole lot of awesome for one picture

The movie had a lot of things going for it. A cold, steely futuristic look, a fun sci-fi/horror undercurrent, and the strong sense of perseverance. “Vampire noir” is a good way to describe it. The struggling poor humans fighting against the rich and otherwordly corporate head. A solid lead with Ethan Hawke and good support from a fun Willem Dafoe. Same Neil is great as the soulless corporate “vampire”. Between this and Event Horizon, Neil should really be in more villain roles. You can tell they enjoyed doing this movie. It's a decent story with a few twists and turns with some political commentary to boot. The mutated vampires have a nice horror movie look, but some may think they are too cartoony. Horror takes a backseat to story progression, but there is plenty of blood and violence to keep you satiated.

That's not to say everything is great about Daybreakers. Cladia Karvan's performance is downright painful to watch. She is emotionless and delivers her lines with the excitement of a sedated patient. The narrative tends to flag when they arrive at the human safe house and it almost feels like the movie is close to ending when Edward discovers the reversal process. To my surprise, the movie kept going. Also, Edwards lab partner Chris (Vince Colosimo) gets very little on-screen time, but plays a pivotal role towards the end. How can I hate the guy if I've barely scene or heard from him? The ending will upset people, but mostly those who need 100% closure.

No amount of hair gel can fix that

Daybreakers has a sleek sci-fi look with a touch of horror. There is a good amount of blood and violence, far more than the “romantic” vampire movies and tv now flooding the market. Hawke, Dafoe and Neil put in entertaining performances. The story is pretty good, but with a few holes and missteps that could have been fixed. While it may not be the best vampire movie of all time, it's definitely one of the better movies to come for the genre in recent years


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