Friday, January 8, 2010

Review - Daybreakers

Set in the year 2019, vampires have taken over the world after a plague mutated nearly every human into a vampire. With a very limited supply of harvested human blood, the vampire race desperately searches for a solution to their survival. Meanwhile a small band of humans reach out to one vampire researcher with the hope of saving humanity.

"Daybreakers" is the vampire movie Twilight haters are gonna love! Right off the bat, the Spierig brothers illustrate to the viewer that daylight definitely kills vampires. "Daybreakers" is visually stunning and houses one of the most intriguing spins on vampire lore; what happens when vampires run out of human blood to feed on? Watching the answer play out on screen is a exhilarating ride without a doubt. A ride that both vampire loyalist and casual fans should really enjoy.

"Daybreakers" does a fabulous job of calling on themes throughout American history. Especially drawing from the 1950's and standardization of life. A time in which the American public were inundated with conformity and Capitalism. Writers-directors Michael and Peter Spierig do a powerful job of translating those same elements into their vampire story. Particularly, the concept of blood as a commodity. Which could be easily compared to our current situation with Oil. Again the Spierig brothers really drive home the imagery and themes that easily resemble dilemmas we have faced or currently face in our economic climate.

I fell in love with the ultra noir style the Spierig brothers and cinematographer Ben Nott shot "Daybreakers" in. This is probably the first time (in a very long time) I actually enjoyed the blue hue that persists throughout two-thirds of the film. The action horror also contains stirring cinematography shot in bright contrast to the blue hue. These scenes feel like a intact representation of the fleeting hope for humanity matched with the desperation of the fractured vampire race.

Going back to the 1950's noir feel, everything within "Daybreakers" absolutely feels set in the future. On the other hand, everything from the costume design to the sets feel very conservative and uniform.  They represent a society which has been forced into conformity and consumerism. I really did not expect this kind of detail in "Daybreakers" and walked out extremely enamored with all of the thought expressed in the film. What makes the Spierig's vision all the more better is that they match all of it with engaging action, lively suspense and cheer inducing gore.

On the point of action and gore, "Daybreakers" does not disappoint. It contains numerous stimulating sequences that are ripe with blood shed and suspense. It should also be noted that I appreciate the fact that the Spierig brothers utilized hand made props. Sure there is CGI throughout the film, but the majority of the gory sequences are all live props that the actors are physically working with. This always goes a long way in the final product and "Daybreakers" is yet another example of that.

The action horror does ham it up in a few fleeting moments, but those scenes resurrect a tone that eases some of the more serious themes and imagery sprinkled throughout the 98 minute running time. Most of the comic relief (if you will) comes directly from Willem Dafoe's character Lionel 'Elvis' Cormac, who from his first moments on screen resonates a true badass. My only hope was that the Spierig brothers would have given Dafoe a few more lines that rang through like, "Everyone loves a BBQ" and "Were the one's with the crossbows." Those lines really conveyed a nostalgic feel from the good old days of 80's action and got great crowd reactions. The rest of the cast including Ethan Hawke are spot on and deliver capable portrayals in their selected roles.

Lastly, "Daybreakers" is far more than I expected. It is a striking and enthralling action horror that has me asking, when's the next BBQ?