the Little Red Reviewer

movie review! Daybreakers (2009)

Posted on: February 7, 2011

Daybreakers (2009)

Starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Defoe, Sam Neill

Rated R

No matter how many times vampire stories are done to death, they just won’t die.  But at least some of them attempt to be unique.

A few years in the future, a vampire plague ravishes the earth. Other than not being able to go outside during the day, life eventually goes on.  Banks and schools and companies still run, lawns still get mowed, curtains are blackout fabric, and the business day runs from sun-down to sun-up.  Human-farming has become a big business, as has trying to develop a blood substitute.

Humans quickly become a dying breed, usually captured for farms, or instant use.  As the vampires turn more and more humans, their source of sustenance, human blood, is drying up.

Without human blood or a functioning substitute, the vampires will degenerate – pointed ears, lose their hair, they turn into cannibalistic bat-like creatures. That is the point at which humanity is truly  lost.

As the price of pure human blood skyrockets, more and more citizens can’t afford to feel themselves properly, and more and more degenerate monsters crawl the streets, killing and eating anything they come across.

Doctor Edward Dalton (played by Ethan Hawke) is a hematologist at Bromley Marks, a company that prides itself on it’s blood substitute research, yet makes record breaking profits through human farming.  Ed unwittingly exposes a human colony that is trafficing humans through safehouses, and he decided to help them.  

Ed truly believes humans and vampires can live together, can make things work.  When Ed’s soldier brother Frankie learns about the humans Ed is protecting, it’s the beginning of the end when Frankie exposes his secret to his military buddies.

I immediately appreciated the monochromatic style choice.  All the colors are muted, except for the one color that means anything to everyone in this story: red.  Red objects – doors, elevator buttons, lipstick, a few articles of clothing aren’t a glaring fire-engine red, they are just red. It gets your attention, makes you a little hungry.

Through his human friends, Ed meets Lionel  (played by Willem Defoe), who is both vampire, yet mortal, with a beating heart, a pulse, and everything.  By researching what’s happened to him, Ed and Lionel are able to develop a cure to the vampire plague.

Once humanity has tasted power and immortality, how do you convince them to go back to being plain human?  As Lionel puts it “life’s a bitch, and then you don’t die.”

I appreciated how vampire-kind was so normalized. Ed drives to work every night and comes home to his neighborhood every morning. He watches TV, uses a cell phone, worries about his brother, has what could easily look like a normal life. These vampires aren’t demonized, they don’t act like zombies or seduce people.  They are just regular people, who will do anything to survive.  

Is Daybreakers the most incredible movie I’ve ever seen? not by a long shot.  Is it unique and fun to watch? you bet.   There are some underdeveloped and quickly wrapped up subplots between Ed and his boss Charles Bromley (played by Sam Neill) that could have been written tighter,  the end of Daybreakers comes together too quick, there was obviously quite a lot left unsaid.  So it’s not perfect by a long shot, but I am happy I finally watched it.  I’ve got a weakness for these minimalist  style peices.

If you enjoy vampire stories, but are looking for something a little more unique, or even just a little more stylish, give Daybreakers a chance.   Rated R for language and violence.

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6 Responses to "movie review! Daybreakers (2009)"

I was really disappointed in the ending of Daybreakers, because suddenly the plot stopped making sense, and there were much stronger ways it could have ended.

However, I really enjoyed it up until then, and I think the opening sequence is breathtaking.

I haven’t heard of this at all, but now I’m adding it to my netflix queue because it sounds interesting enough for me to give it a try. Thanks for the review!

I got to see this two years ago at the Toronto International Film Fest, and the Spirig Brothers (the directors) and Sam Neil were in attendance and did a Q&A after the screening. They said that so many people make vampire films where the vamps are minority, or even if the vamps are widespread and outnumber humans they still kind of live like monsters and the Spirigs wanted to come at it from the vampire live a daily life angle, and to me that’s why it succeeds as being so entertaining. A fun genre film. Nice review!

that Q&A had to be just killer! ;)

If you get a chance, you ought to see their first film UNDEAD. It’s a pretty fun zombie flick

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undead_%28film%29

As far as vampire movies go this isn’t your typical people trying to prevent vampires from taking over the world type. They already won, but the problem being that they are running out of human blood and survival and evolution kick in. I liked the movie because they took something that has been used a lot and took it in a different direction. I work for Dish Network and I just recently watched this movie because I saw it was available to order in HD. I liked the gore and the scene where they spill the blood and get attacked in the dining room was pretty cool.

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