Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.


Daybreakers - posterCinema Monolith: 7/10 Film Reel
IMDb: 6.5/10
The Arizona Republic: ***½ out of 5

Released on January 8, 2010
Rated R
98 minutes

Directed by Michael and Peter Spierig

Written by Michael and Peter Spierig

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Claudia Karvan, Michael Dorman, Isabel Lucas, Vince Colosimo, Robyn Moore, Jay Laga’aia, and quite possibly Nicole Kidman, but don’t quote me on that.

Finally, a refreshing change from the current glut of teenage-themed vampire productions that are log-jamming our local cinemas; this one was both smartly and seriously done, with enough scares and gore to satisfy any bloodthirsty horror fan. The story’s a nifty one, too: after a worldwide plague, vampires both ‘civilized’ and savage now dominate the planet, and humans are hunted and harvested for their dwindling blood supply.

Ethan Hawke—who really seems to mix it up when it comes to his movie roles—plays a vampire trying to create a synthetic blood that will eliminate the need for human blood; Sam Neill, also a vampire, is the man who owns the company where Hawke does his research, and Willem Dafoe comes off best as the former vampire who discovered how to become human again, and is now a vampire hunter who teams with Hawke to find a cure.

The vampire legend was given an urban twist with Daybreakers, and I liked how the new world order was intelligently rendered so it made sense; the vampires were actually still humanesque, behaving as regular human beings would, but now of course they had a thirst for blood, they never aged, and because of the destructive sunlight, their existence was a nocturnal one. Everyone played it with a straight face, too, which helped keep the film from becoming a retread, or stumbling into parody.

Admittedly, Hawke was a little deadpan, which was maybe the point in the role of a vampire, but Dafoe and Neill contributed with some fun characterizations, and helped keep scenes energized (and with Dafoe, you really had someone cool to root for, especially when he was carrying that awesome crossbow). And considering the film was made by Australians, I swear I saw a quick shot of Aussie actress Nicole Kidman made up as a sickly vampire in one of the later scenes, but I have yet to find verification of that. Overall, a solid horror offering that told a good story and delivered the vampiric goods.  (7/10)


8 comments on “Daybreakers

  1. robbinsrealm

    I have known about this film for a long time, but have never watched it; I’ll have to check it out now based on your review.


    • Todd Benefiel

      Cool! But I hope I don’t steer you wrong…I’ve seen positive and negative reviews for Daybreakers, but I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t find it entertaining, especially if you’re a fan of horror, and doubly-especially if you’re a fan of vampire horror. After you watch it, let me know what you thought!


  2. Stu

    Well I’m sold; I hadn’t realised Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill were in it, even though I have a copy! I’ll watch it at some point this year…after Eegah. Or maybe before.


    • Todd Benefiel

      Well, I’m pulling for ‘after’, but if you must go with ‘before’, don’t forget you also have Robot Monster, Xanadu, Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, and No Orchids for Miss Blandish to watch before Daybreakers as well.


      • Stu

        I’ve watched all of those *loads* of times!


      • Todd Benefiel

        The *deuce* you say!


      • Stu

        Todd, as your official Beta Tester of new reviews on the Cinema Monolith I’m sorry to say the link to ‘read more’ here doesn’t work:

        In light of this and other recent technical issues I’m sorry to say I won’t be renewing my subscription when the current one runs out.


      • Todd Benefiel

        As official Alpha Tester of this site, I was shocked and dismayed to read your comment, and even more so when I discovered your findings were correct: the links for Glen or Glenda were not functioning properly. Which was funny, because I test every link after I’ve posted a review, and at that moment they’d all worked. I have now tracked down the problem (which has happened once before, but I was able to catch it in time), and the links have been fixed.

        So thank you, Beta Tester, for your help in this matter. As a reward for your diligence, I have just updated your subscription to Cinema Monolith to ‘lifetime’ status. Enjoy.


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From the Monolith: 125

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