Let’s face it, vampires have been done to death these days. Everything from turning them into sparkly sissies, giving them an HBO series, and having them go toe-to-toe with a former president has been churned out of tinsel-town lately. Frankly, I’m sick of it. They’re everywhere these days and they totally suck…and not in the awesome way. I was beginning to lose hope that there would never be a truly great vampire movie again. DAYBREAKERS changed all that.
Writers/directors Michael and Peter Spierig brought an idea to the table so fresh it bit my face. A plague has struck the Earthlings of 2019, causing most of the population to go vamp. Things are going sweet for the sanguine socialites until humans are put on the endangered species list. Blood supplies are at an all time low. So low, in fact, that the rich are yanking their crops from the human “farms”. Ethan Hawke, hematologist supreme, has been put in charge to create a blood substitute.
One of the biggest delight for me while watching this movie (aside from seeing Sam Neill as a stellar bad-guy) was the way the writers dealt with the effect blood withdrawal had on the vampires. In past films I’ve seen, the only way I knew they hadn’t feasted in a while was either by them saying so or doubling over in pain. This time around was a total surprise to me. The vampires go through a series of mutations that eventually cause them to become feral bat-people.
Even with all the CGI that was used for the mutated vampires (or “subsiders” as they’re called), I was very pleased to see that a lot of practical effects were used in this movie. Filmmakers rely too much on CGI these days and it sickens me. But that’s a rant for another day.
Willem Dafoe kicked ass, as always. His role as Lionel “Elvis” Cormac enhanced how awesome he already was. After all, how can you hate an ex-vampire who loves to tool around in muscle-cars while wielding a crossbow? You can’t. End of story.
DAYBREAKERS was a powerful shot of air to the lungs of the vampire genre. It was fresh, original, and had a great story to boot. I severely hope that in the future writers and directors will start stroking their creativity glands Spierig-style. That kind of imagination and brilliance needs to be put to use on films more often.