Review by Jack Foley
AT A time when the vampire genre is in danger of being sucked dry of worthwhile ideas in the wake of the success of Twilight and True Blood, it’s encouraging to find that Daybreakers still has something fresh to bring to the mix.
Part sci-fi, part film noir and part straight-forward vampire yarn, Peter and Michael Spierig’s movie benefits from some clever ideas and some stylish execution, even though it has its flaws.
Set in the not-too-distant future, Daybreakers exists at a time when the world has been swept by a virus that has turned the majority of its population into bloodsuckers.
But with hardly any humans left and the blood banks running low, starving vampires begin to turn feral and threaten to turn on the corporations that have been farming humans for their supply.
Entering into this mix is Edward (Ethan Hawke), a scientist working on a blood substitute, who stumbles upon a small band of human survivors (led by Isabel Lucas and Willem Dafoe) who may have found a cure.
Given the implications for both sides, however, perfecting and selling the cure poses dangers for both sides.
In design and conception, Daybreakers offers a fascinating genre entry that gets by on the wealth of ideas that permeate throughout.
The Spierig’s cleverly reference everything from The Matrix to Blade Runner and Gattaca in terms of futuristic ideas, while lending the look of the film a distinctly noirish period feel.
They don’t toy with the vampire formula too much, either, turning in some effective jumps and some nasty blood-letting (especially involving the rapidly evolving vampire under-class) en route to its intriguing conclusion.
Performance-wise, too, the film benefits from a starry cast that includes Hawke, Dafoe and Sam Neill on form.
Where it falters slightly is in the payoff as the ending feels rushed and a little too focused on possible sequels.
If anything, the tight running time feels too slight for the number of ideas involved, meaning that some aren’t fully realised or remain unexplained.
For those seeking a quick fix of adult horror mixed with sci-fi elements, however, Daybreakers isn’t without its rewards and exists as an interesting alternative in what’s becoming a rapidly over-crowded genre.
Running time: 97mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: May 31, 2009