I was excited about this film the moment the trailer began. When I saw that Sam Neill was one of the actors, I was bouncing up and down in my seat. I absolutely love Sam Neill; he stars in one of my favorite film of all time (In the Mouth of Madness).
While Lionsgate didn’t give nearly enough support to Repo! The Genetic Opera, I give them kudos for taking part in this film. Daybreakers takes the vampire concept and takes an entirely different look at it. The vampires have all of the traditional hallmarks – mercifully, there is no sparkling or vampire baseball.
Daybreakers‘ vampires cannot be seen in mirrors, burst into flames in the sun, and can be killed with wooden stakes or by beheading. In this world, vampirism has overtaken almost the entire human population. By 2019, society has had a decade to adjust to vampire life. People wear suits, go to work, and to a certain extent lead what is simply an inverted version of today’s daily lifestyle. They have adapted cars and walkways to allow for daytime travel if necessary; cars are modified with tinting that can be adjusted to complete opacity, and a “subwalk” is available below the city to allow people to walk around without ending up extra crispy.
The film also tackles the issue of dwindling fuel, much as we concern ourselves with fossil fuels today. Of course, by “fuel” in this case, I in fact mean “human blood.” With most of the population turned to vampires, a strong effort has been put forth to find some sort of blood substitute. In the meantime, humans who are found are generally placed in what seems to be a state of unconsciousness and “farmed” for their blood. Judging by the physical appearance of the women being used as a food source, the vampires also artificially inseminate in hopes of staving off starvation. The farms look a bit like something out of the Matrix, although they’re a bit more utilitarian and disturbing. Presumably, these humans are not living out some simulated life, either.
Daybreakers takes on a number of different subjects in its attempts to mirror the world to which you and I are accustomed. The government and the blood supply industry are very strongly intertwined, and Sam Neill gives a fantastic performance as a self-interested blood company executive. I love an imposing businessman, and vampire Sam Neill is perfect.
Ethan Hawke’s performance is good for the role, although it doesn’t display any particularly impressive points. On the other hand, Willem Dafoe is definitely good for a laugh as the Elvis-quoting former vampire who, through a freak accident, was “cured.” He hopes to gather humans together in a safe place, and he and his group seek out vampires who are sympathetic toward their cause while simultaneously doing everything they can to rescue the few humans who are left running from the vampire army, which is tasked with hunting and capturing humans for the aforementioned food supply. He also makes for great vampire Willem Dafoe flashbacks.
At any rate, the plot wastes no time in getting straight to the point. It’s not the most absolutely amazing film I’ve ever seen, and I wouldn’t rate it up there with In the Mouth of Madness, but it’s a solid vampire movie that manages to avoid the cheesiness of the five other vampire films that first spring to mind (Twilight excluded). To be honest, I don’t think I’ve had higher praise for a vampire movie in a long, long time.