In review: Not your typical vampire film

Daybreakers
Starring: Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe
Directed by: Michael and Peter Spierig
Release date: Jan. 8, 2010
2/4

In the wake of the recent teen romantic craze over vampires, Daybreakers emerges as a breath of fresh air, although it’s a short breath at best.

This isn’t the vampire movie to top all others in recent memory, but it does a good job of delivering on the concepts it puts forward.

The film centres on Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), a vampire hematologist looking to find a suitable blood substitute to feed the world’s massive vampire population in 2019.

Humans are all but extinct, with the remaining ones captive in blood farms or surviving as rebel gangs outside the vampire-populated cities.

Hawke comes off as a bit of a parody of Edward from the Twilight series.

While he doesn’t have a hard-on for a human love interest, he does constantly lament his identity as a vamp, offering countless languishing scenes where he hopes to reclaim his humanity.

Daybreakers creates an incredibly realistic world for its vampires despite the fact that it suffers from many typical low-budget qualities like few sets and occasional Australian accents shining through.

Effective elements on-screen included things like subway advertisements for vampiric life products.

I had never thought that a vamp might want to use Crest-style WhiteStrips to make their fangs look their brightest.

These small touches, like a set design featuring all glass and metal to keep wood out of vampire life, really lent to the effective creation of this undead future.

Coffee shops in the movie serve java with 20 per cent human blood; personally I’ll stick to 10 per cent cream.

What Daybreakers doesn’t deliver is a standard action movie of any variety.

Don’t expect amazing choreography or shoot-out sequences; action sequences included in the film are mundane at best.

This is not the next Blade or Underworld.

However, lack of action aside, you should be prepared for some of the goriest effects to hit screens in a while.

The Spierigs only other feature, Undead (2001), centres around a zombie epidemic with tons of great kills and monstrous creatures.

They recreate these elements with goretastic make-up and buckets upon buckets of blood effects. Plus, I didn’t mind that vamps staked through the heart actually explode in this flick.

Sam Neill makes a refreshing return to the screen as one of the first economically driven vampires interested in making sure blood never stops flowing for the right price.

Neill’s character reminded me of an undead Michael Douglas in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street.

I had never seen an opening quite like the one this film offers, showing a young 14-year-old vampire girl writing a note about how she detests never being able to actually grow up.

She walks out her front door one morning as the sun begins to rise, and you can imagine what happens next.

Amidst all the other dying movies trying to come to life this January, you should remember that Daybreakers won’t amaze you, but won’t disappoint you either.

This short sci-fi horror film doesn’t waste any time getting to the heart of intentions, and its pulse, while vague, does show up from time to time.

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