Tired of the same old wimpy, whiney, sparkling vampires that we've seen lately? Well then Daybreakers is the film for you! Finally some kick-ass, violent bloodsuckers on screen! One part horror, one part zombie-film and one part sci-fi are the ingredients at play here and they work wonderfully together in this smart, fast and thrilling vampire action film. The film features some unique ideas and interesting twists that we haven't seen before in a film like this. The idea that an epidemic happened that turned most of the world into vampires and that they now live in a utopian society is interesting. But what happens when mankind grows extinct and there is no more food to drink? It's an interesting hypothesis and one the film explores well. I was also impressed with the, for lack of a better term, trick ending that the film introduces that I won't spoil for you but simply say it took me by surprise. It's something that totally makes sense and I've never seen it explored in a vampire film before. This film gets major points for originality.
The movie also has a lot of hidden messages about social issues that really play out nicely and make you think rather than coming off preachy. The film boasts great performances from Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill. Directors Peter and Michael Spierig do an amazing job of setting a believable and somewhat realistic tone for this futuristic world (actually only nine years away) that instantly lets the audience know where they are and what they are about to see perfectly. The look of the film really works and the script and the acting are very sharp and spot-on. What's really stunning here is how original the movie is given how many films of this genre we've seen in the past few years but the directors really deliver, giving us something completely new. It's scary, bloody and awesome! The final scene of the movie, especially, will really blow you socks off and I dare you to keep from screaming at least once. It should be mentioned that cinematographer Ben Nott deserves special credit as the film is one of the best-looking vampire movies I've ever seen, sleek, dark and elegant. It helps add to the mysterious and dangerous, sci-fi world that the directors have created.
The film is set in 2019 and introduces us to a world that has been taken over by Vampires due to a viral outburst that transformed a majority of the world's population into the bloodsuckers. Now, with only a handful of humans left to provide blood for the starving population of vampires, extinction is a very real risk for the new dominant species of humanity. In the film, the vampires are depicted as being normal looking. They are immortals that possess similar physical appearances as regular humans; they look like humans with the exception of fangs and yellow eyes. In response to the dwindling blood supply, the vampires seek to hunt and farm the remaining humans for their blood and to find a blood substitute to prolong their existence. If a vampire doesn't drink blood, then they will transform from their recognizable human form into a violent, uncontrollable bat-like creature of the night. Think "I Am Legend" with wings. A secret team of researchers, who were once human work to uncover a way that could rescue the human race and save themselves from mutation.
Enter Edward Dalton (Hawke), a vampire researcher who refuses to feed on human blood due to his beliefs and wants to find a blood substitute to save humanity not eat them. In contrast to Edward, his brother Frankie (Michael Dorman) is a solider in the human-hunting army and hates humans, where Edward wishes he were one. Sam Neill plays Edwards boss, Charles Bromley, a power-hungry corporate vampire who makes it more than clear to Edward that he has no intentions of saving the human race for any reason other than consumption. After a car accident with some humans Ed meets Audrey (Claudia Karvan), a human survivor and part of the resistance. She leads him to a startling medical breakthrough when she introduces him to Lionel "Elvis" Cormac, wonderfully played by Willem Dafoe, a fellow human survivor who is harboring a shocking secret ... he was once a vampire! Armed with this information Edward is sure he can find a cure that will not only save himself but the human race, however he'll have to face his own brother, Bromley and a hell of a lot of hungry vampires in order to do it.
Again, the final scenes of the movie are really cool. It's really refreshing to see such a bloody and scary version of vampires on screen rather than the "soap opera" and tween-vampires that we have seen of late. Hawke does a great job leading the film and you really feel the duality of his character. Hawke, who was great in "Training Day" and other films really carries the movie well and it's nice to see him return to this genre, which we haven't seen him in since "Gattaca." Speaking of genres, Willem Dafoe is the "king of vampires" after his performance in "Shadow of the Vampire" and he really kicks-ass in this film. It's awesome to see him as a vampire again and he adds his own wonderful touches to "Elvis." Neill is also very good as the villain and his sub-plot story with his daughter adds a touch of humanity to his vampire-villain. If there is any drawback to the film it's that it does start off a bit slow but the movie more than makes up for it once the story takes off. The directors, brothers Peter and Michael Spierig, who directed the zombie film "Undead" have mad a refreshing and fun new vampire movie and I can't wait to see what they do with another genre ... say werewolves? In the end, the film really works and is a must see for any fan of the genre. The movie might be about vampires but it doesn't suck!