INCLUDE_DATA

DAYBREAKERS (2009) **1/2 movie review by DARK SIDE

Posted on January 18th, 2010
Posted on January 18th, 2010

With vampires en vogue at the moment, Hollywood has been struggling to figure out how to cash in on the latest horror movie craze. Understanding that not all viewers are enraptured by the “Twilight” phenomenon, studios have been struggling to develop vampire-themed properties that show potential for larger appeal. “Daybreakers” attempts a big-budgeted stab at making vampires marketable to the action-horror crowd, but the filmmakers don’t seem to realize when they’re flogging a dead horse.

“Daybreakers” takes place in the near future when a bat-born virus outbreak turns all but 5% of the world’s human population into blood-sucking vampires. With food supplies dwindling, a fascist vampire corporation (led by Sam Neill) farms the remaining humans for blood while vampire hematologist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) and his team desperately search for a non-lethal blood substitute. If he fails, humans will become extinct and the starving vampires will devolve into cannibalistic man-bat creatures known as “subsiders.” When a random act of kindness puts Dalton in good favor with a ragtag group of human survivors, they soon recruit him to solve a crucial mystery… Elvis Cormac (Willem Dafoe), once a vampire, has inexplicably been cured of the vampire virus. Inspired by this revelation, Dalton races to discover the cure before either the corporation captures the humans or the subsiders destroy them all.

The exciting, flawlessly-executed trailer piqued my interest for this film and I felt the premise was above average. I wish the trailer had harkened the quality of the final product. Instead, I had to deal with a mish-mash of Hollywood vampire cliches orchestrated to serve the plot, as usual. Sure the filmmakers tried to throw some classic mythology in there… Vampires are immortal, heal instantly, have goofy fangs, ignite in sunlight (a recent invention, no mater what classical literature insinuates) and for some reason, these virus-born bloodsuckers have no mirrored reflection?

Part of the problem is that the novice Spierig Brothers (the directors) are too new to figure the nuances. They are visionaries and they do have big ideas, but unlike their previous Australian zombie romp “Undead,” they couldn’t reconcile the dead-serious with the silly. “Undead” was entirely silly which kind of worked if you factored out all of the poor filmmaking and ill-deserved foreign hype.

Luckily, Willem Dafoe got the memo and went for campy laughs. His character aimed for pure chuckles and seemed so far out of step with the rest of the cast, I gathered he was the only one who saw the script for it’s true purpose. Despite its creation date, in 2010 this film could either be dead serious or pure camp and nowhere in between. The Spierig Bros., either through studio pressure, or their own limited skills, did not choose a solid tone. Case-in-point(s): The vampires had goofy fangs. The actors (especially Sam Neill) spoke so poorly with their fake fangs in, I wanted to sign them all up for speech therapy. The “vamps exploding in sunlight” (the lamest of all vampire faux-mythology) seemed so arbitrary, even reflected and ambient sunlight resulted in inconsistent damage and further flawed the validity of the story structure… etc, etc, etc…

Okay, you got me. So I’m biased against vampire films. Since when has a vampire film ever reflected the idea of the limited-yet-original “Dracula” story? Merge the idea with zombie movies and you’ve got one of the most boring, one-dimensional horror structure hybrids that hardly resemble the legends the original source materials were poached from.

Not to mention when you concede that the original vampire mythology was a diluted amalgamation of the original “werewolf” legends, plus cultural embellishments, the true origin of the vampire mythos seems boring. Before I digress further, let me explain why “Daybreakers” doesn’t work…

Merging vampires with a dystopian future isn’t new. The toothless “Underworld” films ruined that premise years ago. Instead, “Daybreakers” decided to make the situation more apocalyptic (almost a prequel to Richard Matheson’s original “I Am Legend” novella), but without making the characters likable. It also attempted to present this sci-fi/fantasy concept frightening by adding a bunch of “BOO!” scare moments and gratuitous dismemberment. While I’m usually on board with such flourishes, “Daybreakers” never found its pace, nor could it conjure up a genuine moment. The film took itself too seriously and failed to find equilibrium between it’s serious, high-concept premise and it’s immature, campy construction.

I give little stock in the casts’ performances, except for Dafoe who was the only actor who seemed to realize this film wouldn’t work as anything other than B-movie camp. Nuts to the rest.

As for the innovations that the more serious action/horror fans were counting on in this film, “Daybreakers” succeeds in a handful of instances… #1: The concept was big-ticket and somewhat interesting. #2: These “Spierig Bros.” managed some iconic action shots, especially a spectacularly creepy slow-motion, wide-angled shot of a bunch of vampire soldiers tearing each other apart that was so original, it looked like a horror version of DaVinci’s “The Last Supper.” #3: The vampires aren’t all teenagers. Plus it forgoes melodrama for scares and blood.

Not enough for me to care about a vampire movie. I’ve seen similar things on Sci-Fi Channel Originals, but this one is worth a rent if you don’t mind sloppy narratives.

Exceptionally well-put together trailer below…

I vant to drink your seltzer water!  Bleeeeeeeh!!!

-Dark Side

More great articles and reviews…

  • I’ve been saying it all along… Romantic Comedies are screwing up our love lives! by COOP
  • A Movie/Film Review Lesson Plan for Teachers! by COOP
  • BLEEDIN’ WICKED GOOGLY… Films about 35 of those “Other” Sports (Parts 1 – 7) by JAY
  • “Bard None: A Cinematic Guide to Really Bad Shakespeare” by JAY
  • Not a Xenu’s chance in hell… Travolta + Cruise does NOT = BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID!!! by JAY
  • Dex Romweber and the TWO HEADED COW… definitely the most bizarre documentary screening/concert I’ve ever seen! by COOP
  • 10 TOUGHEST MOVIE HEROES OF ALL TIME by COOP
  • TOP 10 REASONS TO WATCH THE OSCARS by Coop
  • TOP 10 HOLIDAY SEASON MOVIES by COOP
  • Top 10 Scariest Horror Scenes by COOP
  • Top 10 Greatest Halloween Villains by COOP
  • TOP 10 HALLOWEEN MOVIES by SEBASTIAN
  • DARK SIDE announces the BEST MOVIE VILLAIN of 2008… Who will claim 2009? **UPDATED**
  • DARK SIDE announces the BEST MOVIE VILLAIN of 2007… Who will claim 2009?
  • THE DARK SIDE CRITIC stars in his own horror short!!!
  • Porky’s Revenge: Swine Flu and the Virus in Film… by JAY
  • Top 10 Greatest Movie Titles Ever!
  • Top 11 Baddest Killer Robots!
  • Ten Movies Designed to Offend Your Religion (Part 1)
  • Ten Movies Designed to Offend Your Religion (Part 2)
  • Why Manly-Men Love Action Flick Chicks
  • Action Flick Chick’s Zombie Survival Guide for a Small Town 
  • No Comments •

    Comments

    Search
    Search Form
    Trailer for the award-winning short PRISMA…


    A corporate promotional VHS tape from 1984 conceals a brain-altering signal which is said to grant increased health, longevity and psychic powers to those who watch it. View at your own risk...

    WINNER: SPECIAL JURY PRIZE, 2017 Oxford Film Festival

    WINNER: BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

    SEMI-FINALIST: 2017 NanoCon International Science-Fiction Film Festival

    NOMINEE: BEST ANIMATION, 2017 End of Days Film Festival

    NOMINEE: BEST GRAPHICS, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

    OFFICIAL SELECTION:
    2017 Nightmares Film Festival
    2017 A Night of Horror Film Festival
    2017 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
    2017 Oxford Film Festival
    2017 Crossroads Film Festival
    2017 Clarksdale Film Festival
    2017 Twisted Dreams Film Festival
    2017 Tupelo Film Festival
    2017 NanoCon International Sci-Fi Film Festival
    2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival
    2017 End of Days Film Festival
    2017 Grenada Afterglow Film Festival
    2017 Shiver International Film Festival
    2017 Southern States Indie FanFilmFest

    Trailer for the lost short GOD MAKER…


    Northern Mississippi 1932:
    In a cabin in the woods, a blind blues guitarist will discover his destiny from a lovesick goddess who seeks to corrupt his soul.

    GOD MAKER remains unfinished and in limbo for now, but the trailer expresses the mood and imagery intended for the project...

    Coop’s award-winning 48 hour short film trailer for REGRESS…


    Told in reverse, this experimental made-in-48-hours film begins with a shocking murder then backtracks (like a viewer rewinding a VHS tape) to reveal the chilling origins of this tragedy.

    WINNER: BEST SHORT FILM at the 2013 Clarksdale Film Festival...
    NOMINATED: BEST DIRECTING by the 2012 48hr. Guerrilla Film Challenge (international contest)...
    OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Crossroads Film Festival

    Watch Coop’s award-winning short film THE BEST DAY…


    WINNER: 2012 MAGNOLIA FILM FESTIVAL "Best Homegrown Film"
    WINNER: 2012 SEATTLE TRUE INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL "Best Scream"

    OFFICIAL SELECTION:
    2012 OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL
    2012 CLARKSDALE FILM FESTIVAL
    2012 CROSSROADS FILM FESTIVAL
    2012 NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI FILM FESTIVAL
    2012 ATLANTA INDIE HORROR FILM FESTIVAL
    2012 OTHERFEST
    2012 MISSISSIPPI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
    2012 SUN AND SAND FILM FESTIVAL

    Morgan Freeman asks Coop a question at THE BEST DAY premiere! Video below…


    My short film THE BEST DAY premiered in October 2011 at the Delta Cinema in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

    Little did I know I had a special guest in the audience who was about to ask me a question during the Q&A. Yep, I got a little flustered when I saw who it was.

    The Small Town Critic’s SCREENWRITING SERVICES
    Follow Coop on Twitter...
      follow me on twitter
      Follow smalltowncritic on Twitter
      Archives
      Subscribe via Email!

      Enter your email address:

      Delivered by FeedBurner

      Subscribe via RSS feed!