It always feels good to see writers shoot for a different twist to the over-saturated vampire genre. 2009 while being a positive year for movies in general, was also a bad year for monster movies as the popularity of the Twilight series spawned a ton of badly written scripts in the form of would-be vampire flicks. As a fan myself of the classic novels and the movies that followed – Nosferatu, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Vampire Chronicles, I was more than a little annoyed by the Twilight clones. When I saw the trailer to Daybreakers there was something that rung differently about it, unlike the others it seemed genuine enough to warrant a look.
Dark, moody and futuristic is the setting of the world in Daybreakers as we get a gist of advanced technology being used by what should have been humans. It is 2019 however and the world has been hit by a plague that has turned everyone into blood-sucking vampires. This may remind you a bit of Omega Man or the Will Smith bastardization of I Am Legend, but unlike those movies, the vamps are alive, doing well and living it up. That is living it up with an impending threat of the blood finally running dry. You see once the blood is gone and a vampire gets the thirst, he/she begins to turn into a monster, and once a monster he/she is banned from society and forced into the underground to hide or risk facing the sun by authorities. The sun in Daybreakers is the force behind the entire tale, the sun kills, it turns, and as some of the outcasts find out, it can ultimately heal.
What is really cool about Daybreakers is that while other movies has the vampires as being the hunted outcasts, this one places them as the norm. They are not all beautiful, some are fat, some are corporate assholes and some are lowly popcorn vendors. The city was really brought to life wit the depictions of the shortage affecting the populace, people asking for more blood with their drinks and the theme of normality in a vampire world was very easy to digest. This made it hard to associate with Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) and his motley crew of heroes because their cause is not shown as much of a noble one outside of survival due to the shortage in food supply for the people. If there was ever a movie to have you see what it would be like to have a world full of monsters this is it, it felt like a Goth’s paradise being played out before me. So as you can tell I really enjoyed the setup, and when a supposed cure is discovered for the curse it really made things interesting due to the bizarre nature of it all. For that alone you should sink your teeth into this movie.
Ethan Hawke has a knack for appearing in good mood-setting movies like this, especially when it depicts the future. This one is no different and I found his character to be quite charismatic and believable. The comedy relief of Willem Dafoe’s blunt, country-boy character Lionel was quite entertaining but I couldn’t help but notice his accent going in and out during the dialogue. Still out of the three main characters his was the most endearing and after some face time the attractiveness of the vampire world begins to wear off and you will get on board with Dalton.
There is an underlying theme to Daybreakers, as there is with most futuristic, Sci-Fi movies of its ilk and it speaks to things such as tribalism and the government’s role in the lives of its people. Within the movie we are given two sides of a war where a family member ends up becoming an enemy for their own reasons. It forces us to show empathy for either side in the conflict and when the conclusion occurs, it is more sobering than exciting to witness.
While no awards will be won with their effort, this being a Sci-Fi movie with a sprinkling of horror. The Spierig brothers have delivered a worthwhile addition to the genre in this futuristic tale. Yes we have seen many doomsday movies in our time and we will probably be seeing a lot more, still a doomsday movie with the entire race of human beings going vampire is worth a gander isn’t it?