What if in the future the world is dominated by vampires? Furthermore, what if the human race (which the vampires use to farm blood) is close to extinction?
These are the questions asked by Daybreakers, a vampire film that almost tries too hard to be different. With the vast numbers of vampire films out there, the challenge is to come up with something fresh that breathes life into the genre. Blade did this by pitting vampires against vampires. To an extent, and to VERY mixed reactions, The Twilight Saga made vampires romantic. Here, Daybreakers puts us in a world where they reign supreme. But with human population at less than 5%, the scientists need to come up with a substitute for human blood.
Ethan Hawke plays Edward, a haematologist that is on the brink of discovering this new substitute. Which is even better for him, as he sympathizes with the humans, refusing to drink the pure blood unless absolutely necessary. Initial tests on apes prove successful, so testing moves onto vampires. Cue one of the few moments in cinema that I’ve felt physically sick from what happens.
Needless to say, the testing is unsuccessful.
By chance, Edward meets a group of humans who claim to have a cure. Not a substitute, an outright cure. The living proof of this is Lionel “my friends call me Elvis” Cormac, a human who used to be a vampire. About a quarter of the film is taken up with the process of Lionel’s miraculous transformation, and Ethan’s experiments to recreate the method, whilst the police, human hunters and Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) the head of a human harvesting conglomerate try to stop them from their ultimate goal.
What Daybreakers was desperately lacking though was ‘zingers’: lines of dialogue present in nearly every action movie that can be quoted long after the end credits. One line almost reached that mark, but seemed a little too forced and long.
In terms of action scenes, there is plenty here, and are balanced by scenes of dialogue that are nearly the same length. So if there is a 5 minute action scene, there will be a 5 minute talking scene straight after, followed by another action scene, then dialogue etc. This pattern was noticeable about 45 minutes in, but is broken at the blood splattered climax when the vampires act zombie-like in their actions.
A lot of reviews complain that the ending was rushed, but this is not the case. Left wide open for a sequel, the closing scenes seem to be the logical closure point.
There is a lot of originality in this film, especially the method used to get vampires back to humans. The concept is unique too; however sometimes consistency is a problem. For example, a scene showing a fat, businessman vampire demanding more blood to be put in his coffee before lunging at the stall sending blood flying everywhere was unusual. Surely a truly starving vampire (noticeable by their complete change in appearance) would go for the blood? This was put down to greed by the overweight vampire though. Furthermore, the method used to turn Lionel noticeably changes his appearance too, yet the same method on Edward doesn’t change how he looks at all.
But these are small faults in a largely successful film. Highly entertaining and bringing something new to the genre, Daybreakers is a great way to start the cinematic year of 2010.