Quick review: Bloody awesome
Now this, ladies and gentlemen is what contemporary vampire fiction should look like. If it doesn’t take place in a fantasy setting then the dystopian near-future of Daybreakers should be it, not some fucking angsty pricks that fucking shine in daylight (Daybreakers vampires “shine” in daylight as well but somewhat more energetically).
The setup of this flick is simple and concise; some sort of plague turns ordinary humans into vampires in 2009 through some undisclosed methodology. While not original in the very least, basically the same concept being used more than fifty years ago in Richard Matheson’s classic “I Am Legend”, it works a treat for this movie.
Flash-forward 10 years, the new vampire civilization has adapted extremely quick to its new limitations with underground tunnels that allow them to walk around in the day, and windows that stain themselves dark instantaneously.
But you see there’s a problem, ten years after the outbreak things are starting to get exponentially worse each day since blood supplies are starting to dwindle. Despite a very Matrix-like human blood farm, there are many more vampires than it can supply and almost no human population left to replenish it.
Enter Evil Corporation™ whose business is to hunt down and farm said remaining humans™ and who is also researching a blood substitute with not a lot of success.
Enter Self-Loathing Protagonist™ Chief Hematologist at said corporation; he’s not that hot on drinking human blood and is leading the research to find a substitute in order to save what may be left of the human race.
And that’s all you need to know about the plot of the movie, you can get more clues about the film from the trailer, there’s an uneasy relationship between him and his brother, there’s a sort of human resistance working on a cure and Willem Dafoe has a crossbow – just the latter would’ve been enough of a reason for me to watch the movie, but that’s just me.
The plot is more or less cookie-cutter, nothing exceptional, but nothing trite either, it has the expected twists and turns with a little bit of 'new' sprinkled here and there, but let’s get to the main thing that the film does well and that is the atmosphere.
Like I said earlier, the new civilization adapted extremely quick to their new limitations and I’m sure, to their new perks as well, although that side of the coin is never shown; what we do get to see is a lot of people smoking a lot of cigarettes and cigars, because if you’re immortal a little cancer won’t screw with your day – by doing this the writers obviously subscribe to the Wolverine motto of healthy living: Fuck it! I heal really-really fast.
There’s a definite film noir look to this flick, at least in the first half, and this would be just a fleeting impression since most of the movie takes place at night, but the retro-like atmosphere is compounded by the use of light in the film and not in the very least by the fashion of the vampire near-future, which is very typical of the ‘30s and ‘40s, and I think that is a great time period to weave with this sort of storytelling because it makes our self-loathing protagonist look right at home even if his reasons for self-loathing aren’t that similar to the protagonists of the classic film noir titles.
This brings me very neatly to the humanity aspect of the film, or the lack of humanity as is the case. The vampires portrayed in Daybreakers are representative, in my opinion, of what the basic core of the vampire mythos stands for, namely a vision of corrupted humans.
Vampires are usually characterized by their immortality, extreme aversion to UV rays and Italian food and their general dislike of humankind however, they only represent an extreme level of human corruption; most of the times they do not have to kill their victims, or even have human victims in order to survive however they choose to do it regardless and this point is made extremely clear in Daybreakers thanks to the Evil Corporation™ which is lead by Stereotypical Villain™ who exudes so many of the human characteristics that he thinks he let go of once he let go of his humanity.
But enough waxing philosophical about it, heads explode, whole vampires burst into flames and then explode, there’s blood everywhere, Willem Dafoe with a crossbow, a couple decapitations, the movie definitely deserves a view by any and all true vampire fans, or sci-fi fans, or even if you’re in the mood for something nice with a solid quota of blood in it.