A far better vampire flick than BloodRayne 2, if a lot bleaker. I don’t think there was a single joke in the whole of Daybreakers – oh, hang on, there was one attempt by Willam Dafoe’s character, but it was just some strangely misogynistic line about whores. What he’s got against whores is never really explained. Maybe… but let’s not go there.
Now, the ‘bleak’ feel kinda works in terms of the main character’s (Ethan Hawke) view of life… well, life as experienced by the living dead… so I suppose it’s his view of living death. You see, he’s a morally compromised hematologist who’s been made a vampire against his will (we’ve all been there, right?). He works for a company that ‘farms’ humans and is looking for a synthetic substitute for human blood. (He refuses to drink human blood, instead opting for pig’s blood – making him the vampire equivalent of a vegetarian?) Why do they need a substitute? Cos all of society is now ‘vampire’ and the humans are on the verge of extinction, init, so the vampire’s are starving (even pigs are in decline).
Yes, the bleakness works for not-so-jolly-old Ethan, but it really doesn’t ring true for the rest of the characters in the movie, truth be told. Even the main vampire baddie (Sam Neil) is po-faced throughout, for no obvious reason. Being very rich and powerful, he really should be revelling in things a bit more. Maybe he looks a bit down cos he realises Daybreakers really isn’t going to represent the height of his career.
The film is quite worthy in drawing analogies with today’s society of haves and have-nots. They even bung in a visual reference to the extermination of Jews – although I couldn’t quite fathom why. The film was a bit confused: I was a lot confused. Maybe this is simply what happens when Hollywood money and stars are used in an Australian film.
For all that, the first twenty minutes of the movie are gorgeously futuristic and extremely clever when it comes to layering the narrative. It has a Matrix feel, but even cooler somehow. It’s just a shame the rest of the film can’t quite keep up to the early standard. It tries and comes really close to being one of the great vampire films, but it ain’t no Blade. 7/10