I was just as surprised as any to be legitimately excited for a vampire movie these days. After hearing the Spill crew recently lavish so much praise on this film from the Spierig Brothers, I was dying to see it. Korey and Cyrus aren't wrong, this is indeed a pretty creative and almost entirely unique idea (at least in film) - the stuffy vampire bosses in Blade
touched upon the notion of a somewhat civil vampire society, but other than that, I can't think of anything else that comes close to relating to the straight-faced, business-as-usual feel of the vampires in Daybreakers
These vampires don't live in caves, castles or even coffins. They're driving Chryslers and drinking "coffee" in a city made about 90% out of glass. Your eyes are indeed treated to lots of pretty, if bleak and lifeless, sights in Daybreakers
, but then a city of vampires shouldn't be any other way, should it? It's about 10-15 years into the future and they have taken over everything. Humans are now kept as cattle in an endless milking factory, and while some bleeding heart vampires - like dear Ethan Hawke - take offense to this, the majority of them don't seem to mind where their food is coming from (I'm sure PETA will love this film). Of course, when the blood starts to run out, things take an ugly turn quite literally as these posh, civilized vampires start mutating into the freakish "Subsiders," mindless ghouls that represent the grim and immediate future if a solution is not found.
The question isn't whether this film is worth seeing - if you're a horror or sci-fi fan, it is - but whether or not the Spierig Brothers adequately explored the rich world they dreamed up. Unfortunately, my answer for that question is no. There are lots of things I left the theater wanting to know more about, or at the very least, I wish there had been several scenes inserted into the film. While all the characters are likable or fitting for their roles, almost none of them are really given any strong development. Ethan Hawke is the vegan vampire, Sam Neill is the cold-as-ice corporation head, Willem Dafoe is the smart-mouthed renegade...and everyone else is pretty much characterized by their role as a human or a soldier and such. Now, this doesn't ruin the movie, but it would have been nice to see a few more layers in some of these people. There was a nice little subplot with Neill and his daughter that should have been fleshed out a little more, to make him more than just the greedy asshole who gives Hawke grief.
My biggest gripe, however, is that the "Subsiders," the monstrous vampires that have gone too long without blood, are not given much screentime at all. There is one cool scene in Ethan Hawke's kitchen involving these creatures, and that's pretty much it. The rest of their presence in the film lies in brief shots of them twitching and skulking around underground. They are underused, and in a film that is essentially about monsters, this is a huge error in judgment. There is even a great spot in the film that could have used a scene with the "Subsiders" - at one point Hawke and Dafoe are fleeing from vampire soldiers underground, and then they just find their way back up in the following scene. There should have been a scene inserted between these, where the two encountered the bloodthirsty things down in the dark. It would have made a perfect fit, but alas, it was not to be.
These complaints aside, Daybreakers
is still a more than decent movie for a night out. The fact that my problem with the film is that I wanted to see more isn't necessarily bad, now is it? It's a very bloody, very creative take on vampires, and while it could have used some length and a touch more depth, it sure kept me engaged throughout the entire running time. Kind of made me hungry too...think I'll go stop by the Taco Bell...for a biiiite.
Seen it yourself? What did you think?