Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on January 8, 2010
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)