Starring: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Claudia Karvan
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed By: Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig
Written By: Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig
A bleak future is on the horizon if Daybreakers is anything to go by. A film that shows the world only seven years away (ten when the film was released) run by vampires with only a few remaining humans still fighting for the race. Starring Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe this vampire flick is like no other where it is more unusual to be normal than it is a blood sucker.
In 2019 95% of the population are vampires who feed off human blood. With only 5% of the people on Earth being human their major source of food is on the verge of coming to an abrupt end, meaning the vampires will die out by becoming mutated savages through their un-quenching thirst. Edward Dalton (Hawke) is a scientist drafted in by corporate boss Charles Bromley (Neill) to create a blood substitute so the vampires can survive. His company hooks humans up into giant machines and farms them for blood and his is one of the only companies who still charge top money for 100% pure human blood as opposed to others who have rationed their supply out. When a trial on human testing goes horribly wrong Edward starts to question if there is a cure for their kind instead of a substitute. He sympathises with the humans especially since he used to be one. After a close encounter with a mutated vampire craving human blood he is approached by Audrey (Karvan) one of the last remaining humans. She claims to need his help to rebuild the human race. Edward agrees to help when he meets Elvis (Dafoe) who was once a vampire himself only to find an unusual way to cure himself and change back. The humans hope that Edward can recreate the device to cure the vampires in order to keep alive their race but the group are hunted down by the army who want these humans for food, and Bromley who is desperate to prevent a cure.
The film is full of some really interesting ideas. It is an unusual take on the usual vampire flick and Hawke makes us sympathise with a blood sucker. The blacked out windows on their cars used to protect them during the day, the curfew an hour before sunrise, the human blood farm, the coffee shops that sell blood with their coffee are all a good way of imagining if the world was actually run like this. The vampires are the dominant race and going to work or catching the train is an everyday thing to them and the world has adapted to meet their needs instead of humans. The Spierig Brothers have given us a vampire film which looks at ethnic cleansing, curing disease, and corrupt business moguls who only care about money. In a supernatural world they have managed to ground it to be about human aspects.
The colours of the film are amazing and reminded me of a film noir with a twist. In the vampire world everything is done at night and the colours are neon blue on a dark back line. It is really prominent and stands out making the vampires look pale and cold and it really works. If anything that is all lost when we see the humans as their world isn't like that. The cinematography is very crisp and adds to the look and feel of a future which has evolved. The human blood farm is a good idea and looks frightening when seeing live humans hooked up to a giant machine whilst their blood is pumped from them. There are many good ideas within this film that erase the memory of any terrible vampire films made over the past few years.
There are many good points but unfortunately there are just as many bad points. The acting for starters is alright but nothing is going to blow you away. The dialogue at times seems fairly unrealistic and too many lines are explaining to the audience what is going on instead of the characters just inhabiting their world. The music is uninspiring and seems completely out of place in this futuristic world. It is a score we have heard many times before in old school action or drama films and instead of drawing me in actually pushed me out of the action. The music is good when it goes unnoticed; here it was the only thing you could hear as it didn't feel right. In the end the film also turns into a bit of a typical shoot out which is a shame when so many dark themes had been explored. It was as if the writers felt without these action moments no one will be interested. I was the opposite and found the dark drama elements of the film the much more pleasing to watch and wish it hadn't of taken a generic route.
It is an enjoyable film and really could have been more than that. For the first time we see a vampire film that isn't typical and explores areas that were never even mentioned in others of the genre. If the film had remained like the first half of it then it would be a hell of a lot better but unfortunately in the second half it loses the dark depth it had at the beginning. So in the end we have an intriguing idea that, although directed well, has as many good points as it does bad.
3 / 5
Next film to review: BROTHERS