Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and brief nudity, 98 minutes
Futuristic vampire thriller "Daybreakers" messy, over-the-top fun
"Daybreakers" is one of those low-expectation films that provides some unexpected fun, even with a largely incoherent, disjointed story that doesn't accomplish much. Graphically and excessively bloody and the over-the-top, somewhat campy tone make "Daybreakers," an original vampire film from German filmmaking brothers Michael and Peter Spierig so much fun to watch. Combining elements of sci-fi, horror and action-adventure, it doesn't always work well and certainly isn't for everyone, but those that see it will enjoy it.
In 2019, a plague transforms the world's population into vampires. With fewer humans to provide blood, the vampires, led by ruthless corporate head Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) farm the remaining humans and to find a way to continue their existence. A team of vampires working for Bromley, led by scientist Edward (Ethan Hawke) uncover a way that would rescue the human race. At the same time, a group of surviving humans, including Elvis (Willem Dafoe), a former now "cured" vampire who tangles with Edward, and Audrey (Claudia Carvan), who wants to repopulate the species and survive.
"Daybreakers" is a bloody, violent take on what a future looks like with most of the world as vampires, and the humans are the clear minority. Some elements are quite intriguing, such as how the vampire race has adjusted to living their lives primarily at night, with a huge dark subway system, daylight adjusted vehicles for when they have to get out during the day, down to how you have your coffee (20% blood, please!). The story becomes far murkier and downright confusing when they must find a "cure" to restore the human race, and how all of this really began in the first place.
The Spierig brothers shot the film back in 2007 in Australia and are just now getting around to releasing it, after some reshooting some key scenes, which may explain "Daybreakers" disjointed feel, particularly in its slower mid-section. They certainly aren't lacking in blood and gore (heads are severed, and in one case, explodes), and it literally takes center stage in the graphically violent (and muddled) climax in which people go from vampire to human. Hawke seems a rather complacent hero, while Dafoe and Neill make the most of their roles, particularly Dafoe, who hams it up as a Southern-flavored character named Elvis.
Add a few cool cars, including a Mustang, a throwback 70's "Smokey and the Bandit"-esque Firebird, and a futuristic, decked out Chrysler 300 along with loads of blood, vampire and other weapons, and you have a cool "Matrix"-like film that's both campy and cool but doesn't make much sense otherwise. Those vampire enthusiasts, and there's quite a bit of them, could likely make "Daybreakers" a cult-favorite if it doesn't do well at the mainstream movie box-office.