Director: Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig
Daybreakers is a movie which, right from the outset, demands a rather high level of suspended disbelief. This is very clearly signaled, however, so it doesn’t detract from the film overly much. The premise is interesting and probably began with a single question: what would the world be like if vampires took over?
The year is 2019. Roughly a decade ago, a single bat set off a contagion cycle which began to turn human beings into vampires, and I don’t mean vampires like in Ultraviolet. I mean the live forever, fangs to suck your blood, sunlight destroys them, no reflection in a mirror kind of vampires. Ten years on, the vast majority of the population has turned, the last vestiges of humanity either hide and run in fear, or have been caught, and are stored in huge facilities, harvested for their blood. With ratios like this, however, the vampire race is facing famine.
Ethan Hawke is a vampire hematologist, searching desperately for a blood substitute that will not only provide sustenance for the population, but also serve to save the human race, who will no longer be needed as the primary source of the food supply. His boss Sam Neill views the blood substitute as a way to segment his market, but still intends to keep harvesting humans. To make matters worse, blood deprivation turns vampires into animalistic bat like ghouls.
Hawke ends up befriending some humans on the run, including one who claims to be a vampire cured through a painful incident that they set about trying to recreate. In the end of course a cure is found, which may now pass through the blood of cured vampires as they are bitten by not yet cured vampires, and so forth.
This was actually a fairly well done film, though it didn’t seem to make much of a mark at the box office. I suppose that Ethan Hawke is no longer that big of a box office draw, and kids these days prefer their vampires sparkly, angst ridden and sexless. Not everything gets explained away, but the plot is tight enough that, within the world of Daybreakers at least, everything makes logical sense. One of the details of the film that actually struck me was the amount of smoking, particularly by Hawke’s character. It makes sense though, the big push against smoking is that it will kill you, but if you’re already dead, what’s the big deal? I wasn’t so sure about the way vampires exploded when stabbed with a wooden stake though. It was like a hand grenade going off, but again, you have to give yourself over to the reality of the film.
As far as dystopian films go, I would generally shy away from anything vampire-related, with only a few notable exceptions (The Last Man on Earth, Ultraviolet), but this one certainly fits the bill. The pandemic spread of the vampire “disease”, the corporate greed exacerbating the problem, the worldwide spread, the general societal woes, even the way in which the population adapts, as if the vampirism has lead to a utopian dream, albeit with an inhospitable underbelly. All in all, this is definitely a dystopian film, though on the fringes due to the mystical nature of the vampires themselves.
Review Date: 2010-07-21
IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0433362/