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Daybreakers | movie review

Daybreakers, AKA 2010’s first vampire movie, is a pretty solid movie-going experience.  It delivers on its trailers, presenting an eerie future where almost all the humans on earth have been changed into vampires–and in having done so not just not solved but actually worsened all of the problems and injustices in the world.  The blood supply is on the verge of exhaustion, blood prices are skyrocketing beyond the reach of most of the populace, the number of vampires feeding on each other or themselves and becoming mutated monsters is exploding, and a non-toxic substitute has yet to be found.  Chief hematologist for the largest blood supplier, Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), only thinks he has problems…until he encounters a group of humans who want him to find a cure.  Not for the blood supply crisis, but for vampirism itself.

First, this movie is rated R for a reason, and they make full use of that rating to up the gruesome ante beyond what teenage flights of fancy and throbbing daydreams about vampires tolerate.  These vampires are not sexy, despite their yellow eyes that glow in the dark.  The glamour of the forbidden, of the unknown, of the dangerous, has dissipated when vampires are the default species.  They are desperate and dying, despite their immortality, and too stubborn to change their ways to save themselves.  We are treated to vampires exploding from blood substitues that didn’t work; staked vampires bursting without burning, because they only burn in sunlight; and burning vampires’ flaking bones still moving before consciousness finally dies.  It’s not exactly a jumpy movie (although there is at least one moment), but it is a gory movie.

It’s also a subtly complex movie, with several different subplots that keep intersecting until they become one clear story.  The set-up was handled I thought really gracefully, pulling on our culture’s vampire tropes to tell much of the story without words.  Edward is shown in the side mirror of his car, as just a suit sitting there adjusting its tie.  The movie opens with a young vampire girl committing suicide by waiting for the morning sun and burning to ash.  The blood harvesting bank is a Boschian nightmare of suspended human bodies pale in the flourescent lights and immobilized by the harnesses holding them in their places on the “trees.”  The lack of human health problems is shown in the constant smoking of almost everyone, including the teenage vampires, and in Edward’s boss’s story of having his cancer cured by the vampire pathogen.  He gives voice to the sinister belief driving most of the vampire population to embrace their disease:  What’s to cure?

The special effects were decent–certainly none of them made me roll my eyes at their obvious fakeness–and well-integrated into the tone and colors of the world.  During the night, when the vampires reign, it was blue and gray and dark.  During the day, the sun was overbright and the film overwashed with its light.  There were a lot of mood and/or setting shots that were nice to look at.  I wouldn’t call the cinemetography quirky or full of odd angles and frames like you get in indie films–it was definitely a cinematic movie–but the film was interesting to look at and obviously had been put together with thought to the artistry of the picture in places.  The costume designer made an interesting choice to give the vampires a 1950s vibe in clothing, especially the women’s dresses and the men’s hats, and the “vampy” make-up of the women–very dark lips and eyes, like you might find on the femme fatale in a noir movie.  (The humans were a stark contrast in modern casual.)  Part of this may have been because the vampires were such a traditional conception of them:  no reflection, burned in the sunlight, drank only human blood, had no heartbeat, lived forever.

The cure they find, however, is something I haven’t seen done before, and while it seems almost beyond belief that only one person had stumbled onto it by accident in 10 years of the epidemic, it still created a horrific scene at the end.  It was probably the most terrible thing in the movie, to see someone regain his humanity only to be set upon by a starving pack of vampires.

There were definitely holes that could be picked in this movie–I’m not going to say it was flawless, by any means–but it was entertaining.  Sometimes you just want to watch a good story, and so even if you aren’t really sure the situation would have gotten so bad…even if you can’t really believe the vampires would abandon all of their human morality toward humans or those of their own kind who turned mutant but yet not give up the strictures of human society in other ways…even if you can’t really believe no one else accidently cured themselves…it was still entertaining as hell.  So I would call it an enjoyable B movie, which is what it looked like and what it is, and give it a thumbs up for being a popcorn movie with good guys, not-so-good guys, kharmic justice, lots of blood, and Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe in the same film.

By Elena Nola

Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.

10 replies on “Daybreakers | movie review”

i love this movie it was awsome it was diffrent then i thought it will be when i saw the preveiws it was like theres only one drop left and i thougt that was the end pf the movie i think there is going to be a second one …. IT IS REALLY AWSOME !!!!!!! i hope every one likes it

This movie was horrible. DON’T WAST YOUR TIME!!!! For the first vampire movie of 2010 it set the wrong tone for 2010. If you are an avid movie goer or even a vampire lover, you will totally and utterly disappointed. The vampires have no powers, there is little to no human hunting. There is little to no vampire curing. Tons and Tons of dialogue with no action. The best looking and more powerful vampires in the movie were all annihilated and served no purpose to the movie. YOU WASTE YOUR MONEY AND YOUR TIME IF YOU WANT TO.

I saw this today, and have to agree with Michelle. It was absolute rubbish and a complete waste of time and money. It would have been alright from netflix, but it’s not worth seeing in the theater.

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The way the cure was spread was absurd, especially how interesting (and painful) the sunlight cure was. I would have liked much better if the cured blood was simply lethal to vampires.

THANK GOD A REAL VAMPIRE MOVIE!!!! Twilight has bastardized the genre and hopefully more movies like Daybreakers can wipe the stink away that is Stef Myer’s creation. This is the best vampire movie to come out in a while, Right up there with 30 Days of Night. No sparkly baseball playing vampires with crushes on meth addicts here! Just carnage and lots of it!!!

I’m glad I stumbled upon this positive review. Most of the other reviews I’ve read for this film have called it disappointing. I’ve been super excited to see this vampire flick ever since I first watched the trailer mid-November. This film just seems dark + crazy in the good way.

It kills me that this was supposed to be the premise of Blade 3, but we got the awful shitpile Blade Trinity instead.

I thought it was great. Too many Vampire purists worried about how many super-powers the Vamps have etc. This was a new take on Vampires and I liked it. Looked pretty damn good for what I’m told was a pretty low budget.
Film makers ARE ALLOWED TO CREATE THEIR OWN REALITY and that’s just what these guys did. Awesome!!!

very interesting movie indeed. i like the idea and the plot. i’m looking forward to the second movie to see how they fight to spread the cure for i’m sure that some vampires will prefer immortality than being human again and will think that the cure is the same with death itself. . i’m definitely curious whether “the cure” can cure the subsiders for their mutation -i believe so-has gone beyond reversible point.

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