Daybreakers (2010)
Directed by Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

Starring Claudia Karvan Ethan Hawke Isabel Lucas Sam Neill Willem Dafoe

Rumor has it this was originally written as a "Blade" film some years back. Makes sense. Not as good as the "Blade" movies, but still pretty good, "Daybreakers" is the best sci-fi-vampire film since that Wesley Snipes franchise wound down in the mid-naughties.

Set in a near future where the entire planet has been taken over by vampires, the film is actually quite pertinent in these post-credit crisis times. Yes, indeed the planet has been taken over by vampires, who operate much as humans do, with cars, blood banks, subways and home security systems. Ethan Hawke plays a leading blood scientist who works for the Microsoft of blood suppliers -- a company that harvests human blood from a farm of rented humans. But with the blood supply of the planet drying up, many of the "owners" of these last humans are pulling their assets out of the "bank". To make matters worse, the blood shortage is turning some vampires into sick, bat-like maniacs -- not unlike the "Reapers" we saw in "Blade II."

As a result, the company's morally bankrupt CEO (Sam Neill) is looking for an emergency blood substitute. Meanwhile, the morally conflicted Hawke scientist character hooks up with a group of renegade humans and runs into one ex-vampire who miraculously "turned" into a human (Willem Dafoe, in his first vampire movie role since "Shadow of the Vampire" 10 years ago). His mission is to replicate the method that cured him of his vampirism and try to unleash it onto the world.

Not as action packed or "Rambo-esque" as the "Blade" or "Underworld" films, "Daybreakers" is more social commentary and sci-fi than action. It also doesn't stack up much as a horror film when it comes to scares or even blood -- despite some nice "Dawn of the Dead"-like moments during its last half hour. The best part of the film might be its first third, when we are introduced to the vampire world where human beings are harvested like pigs. Things get a little convoluted once the story starts rolling along.

All in all, though, a pretty decent vampire-sci fi film, although I prefer films where vampires are depicted as less human and morally conflicted, and more like monsters.


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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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