“Daybreakers” is a great premise gone almost completely wrong. At best, the movie is watchable. It’s not exactly enjoyable, but not horrid either. It’s watchable, that’s about as much as I can give on the overall. I found myself captivated by the trailers. I really did. I was looking forward to seeing this one a lot. Then I saw it finally, and well, I walked away very disappointed. Nearly everything about this movie is sub-par.
The story, as I said, is great initially, but it ends up falling apart through squandered plot opportunities, and just not working. Similar to “I Am Legend”, the entire world has fallen victim to a plague. This plague turns everyone into vampires. Unlike “…Legend”, when the majority of humans are turned into vamps, the remaining humans are given an ultimatum: turn into a vamp, or be hunted, and farmed for blood. To make matters worse, the supply of human blood is dangerously low. Vamps who go too long without a fix turn into what can only be described as psychotic bat-like vampire monsters that prey on anything, living or dead. This is a cool idea, no? It’s a rather fresh take on a recently gloomy genre in my opinion.
For me, the story fell apart when Edward, (Ethan Hawke) a vampire/doctor, who is searching for an alternative to human blood, meets a guy who calls himself Elvis (Willem Defoe). Elvis is the leader of the human resistance trying to reproduce a cure for vampirism because Elvis himself is a former vamp. After these two meet they set to work on reproducing the cure. They do…and it’s a completely ridiculous cure. I don’t mind there being a cure for such an illness, but there are so many other things that could have been done. Actually, there are two steps to the cure. The second is reasonable, and even creative. It’s the first I take issue with.
In addition, I would have enjoyed more exploration of Edward’s relationship with his younger brother. It is set up with a lot of tension, and never really comes to a satisfying end. Also, I would have enjoyed more conflict between the psycho vamps, the normal vamps, and the humans. The story sets up the psycho bats to be this enormous problem, and then almost nothing happens. When the normal vamps dealt with the problem of the psycho vamps I thought, “that’s all?” I was left hanging, and severely underwhelmed. In addition to the main plot, these are two potentially incredibly interesting stories that could have been told simultaneously. This movie could have been two and a half hours long easily if done correctly.
I’m not an actor, but I know what I enjoy. The acting in this movie, save for Defoe and Hawke (and Hawke wasn’t even that great), is nothing to write home about. In fact there are several moments, such as when people are trying to convey emotion…any emotion, that are flat-out laughable. I laughed out loud, as a matter of fact. In general I don’t do that when I’m supposed to take something seriously. In the case of this movie…well…I got a few good, and baffled chuckles by some of the actors’ performances.
The special fx are decidedly higher budget b-movie material. The futuristic cityscape of 2019 looks cool enough but everything involved with the vamps is really corny in my eyes. There’s a fight scene between Edward, his younger brother, and a psycho vamp. The artistry of the psycho vamp looks more from the year 2000 than this year; it’s just clearly bad sci-fi style, and unconvincing. There are several scenes with vamps bursting into flames as a result of contact with sunlight, and those moments too are just laughable. Having the fx budget a bit more evenly distributed might have taken care of the problem. I bring this up because when shot in the heart, vamps explode. And I must say, it’s very cool, and is clearly where most of the fx money went.
Again, a great idea gone very, very wrong.