Directed by: Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig
Written by: Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan, Sam Neill
Running time: 98 minutes
Daybreakers is a film in which vampires are the dominant species on Earth. Humans run scared, always trying to stay one step ahead of the bloodsuckers that will do whatever it takes to track them down and plug them into blood-harvesting machines. Blood is running short and humans are also in serious decline, can a vampire doctor come up with a blood substitute or will vampires turn on each other and without human blood turn into deformed creatures?
An interesting concept is unfortunately to some extent wasted.
What can be said of Sam Neill? He’s never really been an actor to really chew the scenery or act his ass off has he? He’s the Australian cool guy, always at the top of the food chain, but a bit of a corporate suit. He was good in Bicentennial Man, but he just doesn’t do much does he? Ethan Hawke, he’s had a mixed track record of films, Training Day? Lord of War? Assault on Precinct 13? Nothing amazing there and again as an actor he’s sometimes a bit limp. Neill and Hawke do nothing here to improve their standings in my book. Now Willem Dafoe, there’s a real actor the Spiderman films, he was fun in them, and then he has a really crazy actor side as well, Wild At Heart, Shadow of the Vampire. Even if a film is a bit ropey, if Dafoe is in it, he’s likely to be the best thing about it. In Daybreakers to be honest, if anything he’s let down by the script and a silly storyline.
So what’s wrong with the storyline? Well it takes pretty much everything that we know about vampires and throws it all away and replaces it with a new set of ‘rules’.
1) Vampires are creatures of the night – it’s what makes them cool and sexy. Not in Daybreakers. Now it’s OK so long as they stay out of DIRECT sunlight). 2) Most vampire ‘rulebooks’ would have us believe that when a human it turned into a vampire that a demon takes over the body and the human soul is pushed to one side whilst in Daybreakers we are to believe that they are basically just humans with fangs. 3) Three vampires always get ‘the thirst’ and love to feed on humans. In Daybreakers I think we only see one vampire attacking a human and turning them and drinking their blood. Yes blood is scarce but you’d think we’d at least get to see a vampire doing its thing! It’s fairly sanitised by them drinking harvested blood instead. Oh and let’s not forget, in the world of Daybreakers vampires can be turned back into humans by ‘careful’ exposure to sunlight. What a load of old rubbish!
Writer and director team of Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig clearly direct with more panache than they write. The direction is pretty solid.
Overall despite my many complaints Daybreakers is not a terrible film. It’s tried to give a new take on vampires and to turn the tables on the sort of story that we have become used to – vampires being hunted by humans. So it’s a valiant effort, it’s just not exactly what I was hoping for, or expecting.