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Saw 'Daybreakers' at Piccadilly today. Been curious ever since i saw
the trailers and being an Ethan Hawke fan decided to check it out
anyway. The film started out on a bloody brilliant note. The scenes
conveying the near-extinction of the human race and how the vampires
are taking over and how the vampires themselves are threatened by the
blood shortage issue was done rather effectively and the audience
seemed to love it. There is a sense of foreboding throughout the film
which can be expected in the genre, but nevertheless is very vital to
it as most films fall short here. Daybreakers is not your typical
cliché-ridden vampire horror. There has obviously been some sensible
writing involved here. But towards the end the screenwriter tends to
lose his grip and throws in some regular scenes just for the sake of
cheap thrills and gore. This for me did take a bit away from the
essence of the film especially considering the rest of the film was
But nevertheless I would recommend this film, as there is much to be enjoyed. The cinematography and colour combos and contrasts have been created masterfully. Even most of the cgi seems credible enough. Ethan Hawke is his usual intense self and Sam Neil re-surfaces into the mainstream with a Batman-sounding villain character. But its William Defoe as one of "the folks with the cross-bows" who gets the best lines in the film. Sample this- " a human in a world of vampires is about as safe as barebacking a five dollar whore!"
Could have been a great vampire flick, a genre defining one, but is reduced to merely a good one. But that isn't too bad considering the amount of vampire dung we were dished out for the entirety of 09. This one is the best of the lot! Cheers
I attended the World Premiere of "Daybreakers" at the 2009 Toronto
International Film Festival. Like many genre films being screened here,
it's another fascinating hybrid -- let's call this one vampire sci-fi
This Australian horror film (is it something in the water?) was written and directed by brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, the very same filmmakers who closed down the legendary Uptown Theatre in Toronto with "Undead" in 2003. That made this a homecoming of sorts. In fact, it turns out they'd been working on "Daybreakers" since that very day.
It's 2019, and there's been a role reversal -- the world is populated primarily by vampires. Humans are now a hunted minority and an essential food source -- think "Alien" meets "Soylent Green." Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) is the head of a mega-corporation which reaps hefty profits off the "arrangement." Ethan Hawke plays Edward, chief blood researcher. Later, we'll meet outlaw Elvis (Willem Dafoe). His role here becomes more pivotal as the story progresses but I'll leave it at that.
All are up to the task but, despite the presence of veterans Neill, Hawke, and Dafoe, "Daybreakers" is still story-driven and would be less effective if not for an ingenious plot filled with unexpected turns and nonstop action that had me on the edge of my seat, literally. The script is laden with unpredictable twists and shocking reveals that will surprise viewers. Horrific mutant creatures appear out of nowhere with perfect timing.
The brothers Spierig take a thorough hands-on approach, involving themselves in many of the technical aspects along with writing and directing. Ben Nott's sweeping cinematography and crisp editing by Matt Villa helps fulfill their vision of a dark world in which the protagonists are often difficult to identify.
Groundbreaking visual and special effects often elicited cheers from the audience here. I was wide-eyed from start to finish witnessing some of the most jawdropping stunts and shocking "kills" I've seen in a genre film. The color palette is essential to the story as, of course, the undead can only come out at night. Since most shots are necessarily interiors or in darkness, pushing the blue reflects the bleak lighting conditions under which the population lives, as well as the washed-out appearance of what (we imagine) vampires look like. As in most genre movies, sound is as essential to the story as are characters, and composer Christopher Gordon's masterful score matches up with the brilliant work of the effects team to punctuate the many intense action sequences.
Michael and Peter Spierig attended the screening along with Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill. The Q&A ran well into the early morning hours.
(NOTE: "Daybreakers" was the runner-up for the Midnight Madness Cadillac People's Choice Award)
Daybreakers is about a plague that has transformed most every human
into vampires. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured
dominant race plots their survival; meanwhile, a researcher works with
a covert band of vamps on a way to save humankind....but you already
knew that. Like putting a plastic bag over some one's head, things
quickly get violent and out of control.
Special effects: Moderate, not much was needed for the movie. The death of the vampires were a little more violent than usual, however the entertainment behind it balanced it out.
Plot: "Find a cure or we all die" has been used frequently before, and there wasn't much of a twist.
Setting: The setting was a dark futuristic setting, Imagine Las Vegas at night...with all white neon. Perfect setting for this movie. Worth seeing? Yes. Not worth sprinting to the theaters, however it is worth seeing. I'd give it a 7/10.
This movie is such a relief from the romantic necrophilia of the Twilight series. It's good to see scary vampires again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
No creature in the history of film has been represented more than
vampires. Hundreds and hundreds of films dating back as far as 1909's
Vampire of the Coast have explored the undead that sprout fangs that
walk among us at night. Over the past years, vampire film and
television production has gone into high gear. From Twilight to The
Vampire Diaries to True Blood, if you are looking for bloodsuckers, you
don't have to search very far. The challenge most writers and
filmmakers are faced with therefore is making a vampire film seem fresh
The Blade series did a good job in the 1990's pitting vampire against vampire. 30 Days of Night was genius in having the vampires travel to the one place on earth where the sun doesn't appear for months at a time. And Let The Right One In was a foreign gem that surely ranks as one of the genres best.
But writer/directors Michael and Peter Spierig (The Undead) had a new idea. What if in the future the world is dominated by vampires instead of humans. And what if, with so few humans left, the blood supply that vampires need to survive becomes scarce.
Enter, Daybreakers, the new film by the Spierig brothers that stars Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill and Ethan Hawke. Daybreakers takes place in the year 2019. The world is not all that different from what it is now. People still drive cars and go to work. There are businessmen, policemen and even homeless (with signs around their neck asking for people to donate blood). What is different is that all these professions and people are vampires. Humans are in short supply and when captured, they are harvested for their blood. Humans are so scarce in fact that they account for less than 5% of the population and the blood supply that vampires need to survive has less than a months left in reserve. If a vampire begins to starve he turns into a hideous creature. A monster that cannot reason or communicate and preys on humans and vampires alike.
Scientists are hard at work trying to find a synthetic blood or solution to their problem. Lead by Edward (Ethan Hawke), the team is on the brink of solving the international shortage. Edward is a conflicted vampire. As both a scientist and a human sympathizer, Edward wishes for the simpler times long before the vampire outbreak.
By chance, Edward crosses paths with a group of fleeing humans lead by Audrey Bennett (Claudia Karvan). After Edward helps them escape their vampire stalkers, Audrey introduces him to Elvis (Williem Dafoe) a former vampire that has miraculously converted back to human.
Just how Elvis was able to adapt back to human form takes about a quarter of the film wherein Edward works with Elvis to understand and then to do a vampire trial on the process found successful.
All the while, the vampire police, army and the conglomerate lead by Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) that wants to harvest the humans are quickly in toe with only daylight stopping them from their ultimate goal.
Daybreakers was good, intelligent fun with blood splatter and jump-out-of-your-seat moments that are lacking in horror films today. The Spierig brothers have done an exceptional job of taking the conventional vampire film and turning it into something new and fresh. They have plenty of moments where they go for the jugular, but if you were to take their story and replace human blood with oil, you can argue it is a social commentary on how humans would react when cut off their most valued resource.
Plenty of action including some cool car chase scenes and at least 10 jump-out-of-your-seat moments, Daybreakers delivers on bringing a bloody good story packed with severed limbs, chopped off heads and (of course) the burning of vampire skin when exposed to sunlight.
Those horror conventions aside, Daybreakers brings air to the deflated genre and keeps the Spierig brothers as two to watch in the upcoming years.
A vampiric corporation sets out to capture and farm the remaining
humans while researching a blood substitute.
Daybreakers has a captivating promising start, the is year 2019, a plague has transformed almost every human into vampires.
Directors Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig gives the viewer an awe-inspiring vision of the future, the cityscape is amazing. It's also packed with excellent make up effects and nicely executed CGI. The film reflects some great parallels of today's social structure and struggles.
Sam Neill is the perfect vampire leader and Ethan Hawke is good as the trouble vampire who feels pity on the remaining humans.
However, sadly the film takes a turn for the worse when the usually excellent veteran actor Willem Dafoe turns up. From then on the film stumbles until the end credits as it stomps on the great idea's and visuals that came before, with bad dialogue and corny premises. Once the action moves from the city to countryside it's as if the producers turned a switch to- 'bad', with echoes of John Carpenters Vampires (1998).
An engaging strong intellectual start, regrettably becomes a pointless unoriginal drip by the end.
Some films contain better ideas for another film. That is exactly what
we have here in Daybreakers. In the future, we are all vampires. Only
this isn't I am Legend. We walk, talk and do as we used to do. The
major difference being that we must obviously drink blood and avoid the
sun. Thus any and all humans are captured and farmed for blood until
the day they die. We have found a way to do these things and maintain
the semblance of our day-to-day. This is the film I so wanted to see. A
function society of vampires living in a world built for humanity.
Sadly, we don't get enough of it.
What's left of humanity survives by day and dodges at night. Hematologist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke wow its' been a while) is sympathetic to their cause because he does in fact still possess his humanity. His boss (Sam Neil) simply wants capital which should have far less importance in a world where blood is the only real necessity. Dalton's goal is to find either a cure for the disease (never explained) or a substitute to replace human blood which is dwindling fast. If the powers that be can't find a solution we will all change into a creature resembles a mutant bat and Mickey Rourke's face from The Wrestler. Dalton stumbles upon a group of humans who have found a way to cure the disease. This method is explained so simplistically it's stupid to think another vampire or two wouldn't have stumbled upon it by accident too. Among this group is Audrey (Claudia Kraven) and Elvis (Willem Dafoe here setting a precedent for cliché' sadly). Elvis has been cured thanks to his love of fast cars. Don't ask. I'll only groan.
Daybreakers is far from a bad film but it's certainly a stubborn and frustrating one. There is such a fantastic idea here that is tossed aside because we are supposed to identify more with the humans than we are expected to be fascinated by this vampire-urbanity. The action scenes are rather clunky as well and not at all thrilling. That's quite peculiar because some shots in the film look so stellar you'd think they are from a different budget. Characterization is also at a bare minimum. Dalton for example has a soldier brother who serves simply as someone who can move the plot along, he doesn't have to provide any real emotion. Neil also has a daughter (Isabel Lucas last seen as chick-bot in Transformers II) whose screen time and presence in the film is really an utter waste. I suppose it provides Neil some motivation later on in the film but again, this only serves the plot. It doesn't make the film any better which can be said about most of the scenes here.
A lot of folks scratch that a lot of DUDES will like Daybreakers simply because it is not New Moon. The vampires actually bite things, are dangerous, act like they are vampires and not CW stars, and the blood flows freely (the last 10 minutes may be the goriest since Planet Terror). I didn't make this comparison as the two films only have the term vampire in common. Instead I saw a film that used a genius premise to set-up a rather boring, dull and far too conventional 2 hours. I wish there was more to elaborate on but truthfully any mediocre film will make you say this: I don't care to.
Daybreakers is a superbly fresh and entertaining vampire experience.
The film takes place in a dystopian future only a decade from now in
which an outbreak in vampirism has turned the known world on its head.
Contrary to the typical vampire film setup, vampires make up the
majority of the world's population here and humans, who are either
being framed for blood or are in hiding, make up only around 5%. In a
way, the setup somewhat reminds me of the film Equilibrium, with
vampires added into the mix.
The film finely balances sci-fi, horror, and action and I also really appreciated the utter desperation present in the film. So many action movies go so over-the-top in their action heroes that you never feel like their in any danger of being defeated, but here all odds are against our protagonists and, as events unfold, their situation grows gloomier and gloomier.
The entire cast--which includes Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill, William Dafoe, and Claudia Karvanis on top of their game here and play the material straight, which is very refreshing. Especially Sam Neill, whom I've always been a fan of since I saw Jurassic Park as a kid, is great here and he really manages to steal the show in his scenes.
Also refreshing is the amount of bloodletting and thematic material present here. Make no mistake, Daybreakers is a "hard 'R'" and full of violence and grotesque sites like starving vampires turning into monstrosities that are hard to look at. The film also had ideas and much to say about a struggling society in the face of low supply to meet high demand.
I wasn't a huge fan of Undead, but the Spierig Brothers have truly crafted something special here. I do wish the film was a bit longer as I wanted to know more about the society the story took place in, but that's a testament to the film itself. If you're seeking a more adult vampire film with enough substance to excuse its style, I recommend Daybreakers.
Related Recommendations: Equilibrium, Gattaca, They Live, Aeon Flux , Blade, Blade II, The Matrix
There is no shortage of on screen vampires these days. However
'Daybreakers' scores with a unique twist in what is becoming an
overworked genre: What if the undead are the majority? In 2019, due to
a plague, most of the world's population have become vampires and the
few humans left are hunted down and farmed for blood. This topsy-turvy
"new normal" is sharply and amusingly depicted as being eerily similar
to current living with the important difference that the populace go
about their business at night and enjoy shots of blood in their coffee.
Aging, famine, and disease have been eradicated, however sunlight is
lethal. There is also still a class system, with destitute vampires who
cannot afford a regular fix of blood turning into violent, deformed
creatures called "subsiders".
But there is a problem. The vampires' insatiable appetite for blood has driven the residual human population to the point of extinction and left the blood supply almost exhausted. Enter Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), a scientist working for a massive pharmaceutical conglomerate headed by the evil Charles Bromley (Sam Neill). His job is to find a blood substitute to ward off mass starvation. Dalton secretly sympathizes with the remaining humans and hopes that his work will result in their persecution being halted. After connecting with some human survivors, he realizes that there may be an even more radical solution to the problem. However, not every solution is profitable..
From beginning to end this film is big, gory fun. There are some interesting and agreeable plot twists and the film's more metaphorical aspects (which are not exactly subtle to begin with) are upfront but not preachy. The special effects and action scenes are top-notch also, particularly a gruesome set-piece near the film's climax. The Spierig brothers also manage to insert some big scary jolts at regular intervals. All the cast are solid but special mention should go to Sam Neill who does not chew scenery as the main villain of the piece but definitely nibbles here and there. Willem Dafoe is good too, as always. "Daybreakers" also passes a key horror movie test: when you leave the theater, the outside world does not look quite as reassuring as it normally does. Well worth seeing.
Riding the most recent wave of monster-dom, Daybreakers is yet another
entry in the endless parade of vampire films to hit the market since
the arrival of a little film called Twilight which I hear is somewhat
popular. Breaking with recent trends however, Daybreakers is by far the
best of the bunch; high concept and high reward.
The year is 2019. After a plague sweeps across the globe turning men, women and children into blood-thirsty, pale version of their former selves another, larger threat looms. The remaining humans, who now mostly exist only in vast blood farms that recall the fields of The Matrix, are drying out so to speak. Blood shortages are common place and with the direction of a vampire haematologist named Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawk) they desperately search for a blood substitute. But complications lead Dalton to question his loyalties after he meets a group of humans led by a former-vampire turned vigilante (Willem Dafoe) and with the future of mankind resting in the balance, time grows more and more precious.
The vampire world created by director brothers Michael and Peter Spierig is extensive and all encompassing. The attention to detail at every turn is the greatest reason to seek out Daybreakers even if script and some performances aren't quite up to the same standard. Take for example instances of how the vamps navigate during the daytime and what a double-double coffee now means. Many earmarks of vampire lore remain; death by sunlight, susceptibility to a steak in the heart, etc. But many details about the new world culture is left to viewer imagination which is a far better avenue to take then attempting to stuff the story with exposition and revelations.
Amidst a sea of flashy set pieces, the acting takes a backseat. Hawk is merely there, Dafoe is entertaining enough and scores most of the laughs and Sam Niell shows up as the shady CEO of the blood farm and is sufficiently sinister. The real standout is Claudia Karvan as one of the remaining humans who actually manages to bring down her languid looking co-stars with her emotion and charm. Daybreakers features a number of requisite action set-pieces and do the job admirably enough but it is the story that is the real reason to see this film.
If there is still blood to be drained from this waning horror genre I hope it is not fast-tracked to take advantage of the current craze. If we are to have more vampire flicks of this calibre then I would rather experience them while not being constantly swamped. Regardless of where these fright flicks tread in the future we are lucky to have Daybreakers, as an entertaining and thought-provoking film like this is always welcome amidst a sea of remakes, reboots and rehashes that have become a Hollywood staple.
Read all my reviews at simonsaysmovies.blogspot.com
Building on the genre-clash crossover theme that was solidly
established the first night of TIFF's Midnight Madness with the slasher
flick cum teen girl comedy Jennifer's Body, programmer Colin Geddes has
delivered another interesting hybrid: the futuristic, sci-fi-vampire
Set 10 years into the future and after the bat-spawned vampire plague converted the vast majority of humans into blood-sucking chain-smoking nocturnal regular joes who have to shave by watching themselves in a video feed, Daybreakers is directed by the twin Spierig brothers. They're MM vets, these dudes, as their last film (2003's Undead) famously closed out the beloved Uptown theatre here in Toronto, the still-mourned theatre that was home to the midnight TIFF screenings before they moved to the cavernous, impersonal and enormous Ryerson hall.
Ethan Hawke plays vampire Edward, the reticent, kind-hearted Chief Hematologist of the giant multi-national corporation tasked with farming the remaining few humans for their blood and developing a substitute to feed the billions of vampires teetering on the edge of starvation as resources dwindle. The film is a neat enough allegory any number of take-your-pick conservation issues, food, water, oil; one of the things that makes the film work is that it's sci-fi of the best kind, true speculative fiction that talks about what's happening now, or could happen soon, through a lens that both abstracts it slightly and makes it easier (if at times much too much and too obvious) to see. The Spierig bros' film is entertaining from the start, it takes an immediate heart-warming leap into territory any genre film-lover will like. The film says "ok, this is a vampire movie, it's in the future, the humans lost, the vampires have their own society now" and instead of just telling that story, the story of the battle, Daybreakers takes that as pat and asks "ok, now that you've accepted that in the prologue, what happens to vampire society when it runs out of blood?".
It's joyous just in its premise, so reminiscent and redolent of true movie-monster-nerd basement fantasy conversations about who would win between Dracula and Predator or what would happen if the Nazis had werewolf soldiers that any number of technical shortcomings, like a jumbled, poorly paced and overlong second act or a handful of not-very-good performances can be overlooked easily and gladly. While much of the film feels (and not just due to the presence of Ethan Hawke, who oddly spends the last half an hour of the film looking exactly like Han Solo) like vampire Gattaca as the machinations of the rebel - underground - vs - evil - corporate - overlords - and - there's - also - a - family - betrayal - subplot revolve, there are a handful of truly scary, truly sublime scenes of the best kind of vampire carnage, gory and stylish and terrifying. For lovers like me of genre freakouts, Daybreakers offers a flawed but thoroughly enjoyable, happy-making trip, one foot firmly in vampire flick tradition and the other in entertaining, creative and original speculative territory. I was sold the moment I didn't see Ethan Hawke's reflection in the rear view mirror of a sleek, futured-up Chevy cruising through the best Blade Runner future two Australian indie filmmaker brothers could create. 8.1/10.
We have a video version on our site, http://www.thesubstream.com .
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