The vampire genre has blossomed over the last couple of years and Daybreakers is another take on the world of the undead. However, this version is a more original concept than those that have been seen lately.
Vampires have taken over the world in the year 2019 and humans are on the verge of becoming extinct. The problem with that is the vampires cannot survive without human blood and if there are no more humans, then soon there will be no more vampires either.
Dr. Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is a hematologist who works for a large company that harvests humans in the hopes of finding a blood substitute. Although Edward is a vampire, he was made one involuntarily and hopes that if a blood substitute is found then humans won’t be hunted anymore. His boss, Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), has no intention of making the substitute to cease the hunting of humans. He wants to be able to reinvigorate his species before they end up killing each other or themselves.
Edward comes across a random group of humans after crashing his car and he chooses to help them before other vampires find them. After letting them get away he is conflicted when his brother Frankie (Michael Dorman) shows up to his home. Frankie works for the would-be army, but his job is to be the hunter of the humans and bring them back to the company Edward works for. The brothers do not see eye to eye and that causes for danger in their future.
Audrey (Claudia Karvan), one of the humans Edward helped escape, shows up to his home and asks for his help. Before leaving, she leaves him with a piece of paper detailing where he should meet her. Frankie is waiting for him after Audrey leaves and questions his brother’s motives.
Edward meets Audrey and she introduces him to someone who she believes he has a commonality with. He meets a man named Elvis (Willem Dafoe) and he is shocked to see that although Elvis is not the same species as himself, he once was. Unbeknownst to Edward, Frankie has followed him and begins to attack the threesome. They manage to escape and Edward is taken back to where the humans have set up their post.
Edward is determined to come up with a cure for his kind and after meeting Elvis his dream may finally become a reality. Bromley and Frankie are now working together to capture the rest of the humans and bring Edward back so that he can finish his job of creating the perfect blood substitute.
I can’t say that this concept is completely original because the idea of a largely vampire population versus a dwindling human population is reminiscent of the recent film, Zombieland. Granted, it’s two different evils (vampires & zombies), but the premise is still kind of similar. I do like what this film did though. It was a great combination of the scary and creepy side of a vampire film with some interesting new twists thrown in.
I really liked Hawke in this role; I feel like he gave the film some humanity. Neill was a good villain and I enjoyed Dafoe as well. I wasn’t familiar with Karvan prior to this film, but I think she did a respectable job. My only problem with her was that once her character was introduced and looked at Hawke’s character, it was painfully obvious that they intended for there to be a connection/chemistry between the two.
One of the most distracting things for me in this film were the names of some of the characters. I have watched and read my fair share of vampire-themed entertainment and the name Edward is synonymous with Twilight and Robert Pattinson. Elvis is a big part of the True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, where she refers to him as Bubba. I’m not saying different art forms can’t share names, but two vampire movies made in the same year should not have the same character names – especially when one is becoming the most famous vampire name of a generation. Of course it won’t mean anything to those who haven’t seen Twilight or read Harris’ books, but as someone who’s done both, it took me out of the movie a bit.
I think the special effects and make-up team did an incredible job creating the decaying vamps. The visions of the directors, Michael and Peter Spierig, were very specific and I think they pulled it off quite well. The vampire movement in film and television is at an all-time high, so in order to join the game a director/writer must find a way to bring something different to the table and I think they accomplished that.