There is only one major problem that I can see in Daybreakers, and thankfully, it only arises a couple of times throughout the film. Some of the special effects are really poorly done; the only way I can realistically describe the CGI when a vampire is burned by the sun is with the word “laughable”. Like I said, these types of moments only appear every now and then, not really getting in the way of the good parts of the film. And trust me, there are a lot of good parts that you will bear witness to.
Taking place in 2019, only 5% of the human race is still remaining on Earth. The rest have been turned into vampires. These vampires require human blood to live a normal life, but since the human population has decreased significantly over the years, they now have to be hunted and farmed. Some scientists are trying to create artificial blood, but are not succeeding. With only that 5% remaining, the prediction is that all the blood will be gone within one month.
In Daybreakers, when a vampire goes without blood for long enough, it will start to mutate into an animalistic creature. The brain goes first, with memory, emotions and logic deteriorating. Then the body begins to morph into a more traditional bat-like creature. Things have started to get dire on Earth, so isn’t it great that we jump into this dystopia at this point?
We meet Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), a man who is sympathetic towards the humans. He drinks animal blood instead of human, and even refuses a drink of “100% Pure” human blood for his 35th birthday…which he’s celebrating for the 10th time. He’s the perfect target for a group of human stragglers to capture and recruit in an attempt to cure vampirism once and for all. This group is led by two people, a human female named Audrey (Claudia Karvan), and a human-turned-vampire-cured-human named Elvis (Willem Dafoe).
The major corporation that Edward works for doesn’t like the fact that he is switching sides though, and decides that impeding his progress to find a cure would be a good thing. Why? I don’t know, I guess there needs to be some sort of villain. Otherwise, Edward would get to administer the cure, vampires would go back to being human, and the movie would end. And that would be a shame, because we would miss out on a large amount of fun.
To be honest, that’s what Daybreakers really is, a fun movie. It has brains, yes, but it is also, in a sense, a B-movie. Blood flies everywhere during the action scenes, certain characters are hilariously over the top, and the film just feels fun. Oh yeah, and vampires can explode at any given moment, even if they’re just stabbed in the throat. Yes, that is hilariously entertaining to watch.
Now, the obvious parallels between the real-world natural resource depletion and the vampires running out of blood in Daybreakers are obvious. There are also themes of capitalism and capitalization running rampant. All three of these key ideas makes Daybreakers more entertaining to watch. Instead of just a cheesy, over-the-top genre film, we’re given one of intellect, so that both the “I want action” and the “I want something to think about” part of your mind will be well-nourished.
This also means that once Daybreakers ends, you’ll be thinking about it. It’ll stay with you, making you think back about what you just watched. At least, this is what happened to me. I’m especially curious as to whether or not to believe that the film ends on a happy or sad note. It isn’t clear, anyway, and I suppose that interpretation is one for you to make for yourself. Regardless, you will still think about it after it ends, something that I believe to be something to praise.
If there is one other element that I have to criticize, it’s the acting. Now, taking it as a B-movie, then the acting isn’t all that bad, but in the times where the characters are supposed to be serious, the acting doesn’t relay that. Nobody is particularly good or gives a deep performance, but that isn’t going to stop you from enjoying the film. It’s just something that is noticeable if you are looking for things to complain about, which I was.
There isn’t a lot to dislike when it comes to a film like Daybreakers. However, I can’t guarantee that everyone will enjoy it. It is, after all, a genre film, one of sci-fi and horror, and if you don’t enjoy those types of films, you won’t like Daybreakers either. I enjoyed it though; the plot was interesting, the depth made me think, and the film ended up being really fun to watch. Sometimes the CGI didn’t hold up, and the acting wasn’t very good, but I still had a really enjoyable time with Daybreakers.