Saturday, February 6, 2010

Review - Daybreakers (2009)

“Living in a world where vampires are the dominant species is about as safe as bare backing a 5 dollar whore.”

Director: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Starring: Ethan Hawke, William Dafoe, Sam Neil, Claudia Karven
Screenplay: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

I will try and not be biased but there are two factors that I can foresee that will taint this review a little bit and I just wanted to warn you. First off I’m a huge vampire fan and I’m sick and tired of Twilight. Vampires are not meant to glitter GOD DAMN IT. This movie is a breathe of fresh air compared to that turgid piece of drek. Secondly this movie is an Australian production and it’s great to see a movie coming from my home country, that isn’t concerned with the culture of us Aussies but instead just wants to tell a story and can be embraced internationally. Now with these two biases in mind, I ask the question is the movie any good or does it suck?

In Daybreakers most of the world has been turned into vampires. After harvesting nearly every human on the planet, blood supplies are low and things are getting out of control world wide. Enter Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) a haematologist who is working on a blood substitute. Without blood vampires are turning into monstrous sub vampires and the blood substitute might be the only hope for vampire kind. However ff the last strains of humanity have anything to do with it, he will give more than a stop gap solution but a permanent cure to the vampire disease. Personally this story stands out from the crowd of vampire movies and gives the audience something different to sink their teeth into. The plot allows for some nice envisioning of what a vampire world would be like, and does provide a pretty straight forward momentum without too much deviation.

Acting wise it’s a bit hit and miss. I like Ethan Hawke who gave a solid performance, he was a character that had a lot of baggage but I think successfully skirted the ‘woah is me’ mentality of many vampire characters. William Dafoe as Elvis, leader of the human resistance was okay, his accent slipped a little but I didn’t really care, good enough for the role. Probably the weaker acting was in the villain department. Sam Neil was okay as Charles Bramley owner of the American blood suppliers. He had fun with the role but was really let down with not having much to do and there fore wasn’t ever that threatening. Michael Dorman as Frankie Dalton was not really convincing at all, I never really got what he was supposed to represent. There did seem to be a few gaps in his characters logic.

Villains not being given enough to do? Gaps in characters logic? Welcome to this movies biggest flaw. It seems a lot has been cut out of this movie to make it lean. The movie really flew along and I kept getting the feeling there was supposed to be more character development and maybe a little more plot development with the sub vampires. Whether this was a studio decision or one made by the Spierig Brothers, I couldn’t say but while not feeling like a whole movie it still made sense and entertained. Also while I felt the movie lacked a big time villain to really provide that big ending, there was still enough threat coming from the all consuming hunger that every vampire had.

One big thumbs up has to go with Spierig Brothers for doing a lot with what little money they had. From my understanding this movie was done for around 20 Million and yet like District 9 which also had a small budget it showed big boys that you don’t have to spend 300 million to make a movie look good. Yes there is CGI that looks a little off but overall it’s not distracting. Speaking of visual effects there are some pretty damn decent practical make up effects and enough gore to make horror fans cheer. Oh yes people these vampires come from the Near Dark / 30 Days of Night school. Not wanting to give too much away but a big grin came to my face during a scene that was done in slow mo. There was a lot happening but the severed limb flying through the air was what caught my eye. I counted how many times it flipped in the air. Seven. I think.

I enjoyed this movie. Its fresh setting for vampires grabbed my attention, its visual style held it along with the central performance of Ethan Hawke. I really wish this movie was longer to fill some of the missing parts. I hope there is a director’s edition coming out on DVD as I would like to re-evaluate the entire movie then. If you like vampires; and by vampires I mean the proper ones not those vampire wannabe’s named Cullen; go see this movie.

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