Director – Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Cast – Ethan Hawke, Sam Neil, Willem Dafoe, Harriet Mindo-Day, Michael Dorman, Claudia Karvan, Mungo McKay, Jay Laga-aia, Allison Bromley
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I have never been a big fan of vampire films, but I sure was excited for this one because of it’s unique take on the vampire sub-genre. This isn’t your typical vampire love/horror film, but one that throws in a nice futuristic sci-fi element never before seen in another vampire film. Creative elements in a somewhat silly yet theoretically possible film made this a fun watch even for those who care little for vampire films…like me.
“Daybreakers” stars Ethan Hawke as Edward Dalton, a vampire and chief hematologist at a large pharmaceutical firm. The year is 2019, and the world population has been overrun with vampires, only 5% of the population are humans. This poses a problem for the vast number of vampires as their one and only source of food, human blood, is dwindling to very low numbers. Edward Dalton’s job is to find a blood substitute for the vampires to consume, and fast. Within one month the entire remaining supply of human blood will be finished, and the vampires will starve to death. Due to rationing of the remaining blood supply, backlash from desperate vampires has set in, causing panic and lack of social order. With time running out Mr. Dalton comes across a group of humans who claim to have found a cure for vampirism. Edward has now found a cure that can bring vampires back to humanity again, but trouble arises when his company decides his cure will cost them big money.
This film surprised me, and in a way I did find surprisingly enjoyable. I was expecting and all-out vampire film, but instead was given much more than that. The futuristic feel was a nice touch, and watching the social character of the vampires descent into madness over the rationing of blood was awesome to watch. I had never really seen that ever in a vampire film prior to this film, so bravo to the brothers Michael and Peter Spierig for adding some creative elements to an old horror sub-genre. We see the vampires go from what seem to be normal human beings into bloodthirsty savages at the sight of 100% human blood, compared to the 5% blood they are given as rations. Some of us biologically inclined viewers may see this as a statement to our current worldwide situation of dwindling resources due to our energy demands. Furthermore, we get a nice touch in the form of pharmaceutical greed, another problem we have nowadays. The head of the pharmaceutical company, Charles Bromley(portrayed by the always awesome Sam Neil) learns of Dalton’s cure for vampirism, one that would allow them to not fall victim to the blood crisis, but only looks to flush out Dalton in order to secure his company financially when they accomplish a blood substitute. It seems the legendary George A. Romero is not the only horror writer/director to input social commentary into his films these days.
The film’s direction is well done with many nice visuals and great pacing thanks to the nice blend of gory action and vampiric social development. You may remember the Spierig brothers from their previous film, the zombie film “Undead”, which has become a love/hate cult film in this genre. All of the well written elements I mentioned above were aided by the film’s direction and were a huge contributing factor to the great pacing we get. I never once found myself bored or uninterested in what was going on, and that is always important. A clever plot with at the very least “moderate” direction will do that for you. I was in fact very glad that these two directors made a vampire film because it is about darn time we get a vampire flick with some great gore. Vamp films have never been all that gory, but hell, who is to say they CAN’T be? Heh. Thanks to their love for the finer things in life(gore) we get some very nice kills that reminded me a big of Romero’s epic “Dead” climaxes with lots of zombies(but in this case, vampires) tearing at the poor souls meeting their demise. I did find a few faults in the editing of the film, some that I felt could have been touched a up a bit smoother so they did not come off so choppy and amateurish. Oh well. It also would have been nice to get more action from the “transformed” vampires that drank their own blood. They looked great and provided pretty much the only “real” horror in the film, so more of them would have been a nice touch.
Overall, this is a nice take on the vampire sub-genre that I recommend to all horror fans. Even those not too into vampires, such as I, should have no problem enjoying this film, especially if you tend to enjoy the scientific aspects that can be thrown into horror. Plus, we get possibly the goriest vampire film this millennium. Give this one a watch.