Friday, July 2, 2010

Daybreakers (2009) - Drink It All In

On the Menu: DAYBREAKERS (2009)

Ingredients: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Claudia Karvan, Michael Dorman, Vince Colosimo and Isabel Lucas. Directed by Michael and Peter Spierig. Run time: 98 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite: There have been a couple of outstanding foreign vampire films made within the last few years: LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and THIRST. I had a feeling DAYBREAKERS (an Australian film), with its strong cast, would stay true to vampire lore and be devoid of pale heartthrobs with bad hair.

The year is 2019 and vampires make up most of the world's population. There's only one problem: they're running out of human blood.

Edward Dalton (Hawke) is the chief hematologist at Bromley Marks Pharmaceuticals, a large corporation that is essentially a blood bank where the remaining humans are harvested. Edward is working on a blood substitute, but would rather find a cure.

His boss, Charles Bromley (Neill), is only concerned about the bottom line. Synthetic blood would bring some cash for sure due to the blood shortage, but it would also cause the demand for human blood to skyrocket. It's a win-win.

Edward sympathizes with the humans though. He doesn't drink human blood anymore.

The problem is if a vampire goes without human blood for too long, they devolve into what looks like a human bat.

Luckily, Edward crosses paths with humans, Audrey Bennett and Lionel "Elvis" Cormac, who is a former vamp that created the daytime driving technology used in vampire cars. Yes. That's right. Elvis has left the shielding [behind], and wanders around as a human again after nine years without a pulse.

Does that mean there's a chance for Team Edward to find a cure before everyone goes bat crazy? 

Second Helping: I watched the movie again with the audio commentary. It's rather informative, but nowhere near as comprehensive as the "making-of" documentary. 

Tough to Swallow: A calendar in the beginning of the film has April 1, 2019 as a Tuesday. April Fools' Day will actually be a Monday that year.

In the car chase scene, Edward's car gets shot up by the vamp military. Sunlight comes in through the "bullet" holes and causes him to slink around to avoid it. All he had to do was put his jacket over the back of his head.

When Edward is testing the cure, the fire engulfing him doesn't affect the heart monitors.

The stake-through-the-heart killing method always works on the first attempt.

Not sure about the cure concept, but it works with the phoenix story.

The closing credits are red, which is a clever idea, but they're hard to read on a 27" TV screen. 

Something to Chew On: Shooting for the film began in July 2007.

Production was nearly shut down because of a Shigella outbreak amongst the cast and crew.

The movie was filmed entirely in Australia, but didn't hit theaters there until February 4, 2010. It premiered in Canada at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2009, and its theatrical release in the U.S. began January 8, 2010.

The budget was $21 million and has grossed nearly $50 million worldwide.

The film currently has a 6.6 user rating on (23,927 votes).

Sides: The Spierig brothers and creatures designer/supervisor Steve Boyle provide audio commentary.

"The Making of DAYBREAKERS" is a feature-length documentary. You can either watch the entire doc, which is 1 hour and 25 minutes long, or select from 5 sections: Early Development, Pre-production, Production, Post Production and Credits.

The DVD also includes a poster art gallery (7 photos), the theatrical trailer and trailers for 4 other Lionsgate movies.

Aftertaste: I can only imagine that Stephenie Meyers and her "Twilight" series have romanticized vampirism (I refuse to watch any of those movies). Vampires aren't supposed to be sexy. DAYBREAKERS is trying to show that living forever as a vampire isn't all it's cracked up to be. Imagine being bitten by a vampire when you're 10 years old. Well, now you'll be in that body forever even though the years will keep passing you by. Think Gary Coleman, but immortal.

Too soon?

However, the Spierig brothers' visualization of a vampire society is pretty freakin' sweet. Buildings are connected to a Subwalk to allow vampires to walk underground during the daylight hours. Vampires take their coffee with blood instead of milk. They're living like humans did probably because it provides a sense of normalcy; they were once human after all. Of course, there's also glaring analogy to today's oil situation, and references to the phoenix story and baptism by fire. For me, these types of things are what make DAYBREAKERS a smart movie.

The visuals and futuristic setpieces are quite impressive. It is reminiscent of THE MATRIX at times.

But, it's not just a smart, good-looking film. It's bloody, bloody and bloody, and that's what you want in a horror flick.

The cast list is rather mindblowing for a vampire movie directed by two brothers who had never made a Hollywood film before. Neill is the perfect bad guy. Dafoe is a great presence even if the character is so-so. Ethan Hawke is, well, Ethan Hawke, which means pretty bland overall. Australian actress Karvan may have had the best performance.

I imagine it's hard to come up with a new idea for a vampire movie, but DAYBREAKERS is definitely a refreshing take on the genre.


No comments:

Post a Comment