Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Breaking A Day

I didn't get to see Daybreakers when it was out in theaters last January. I wasn't particularly upset over this because I assumed that some vampire flick in January would be an unwatchable mess. It turns out that not only is it watchable but it had a plot line I could follow and people, for the most part, behaved logically.

It will come as a shock to some that this vampire story was not about attractive teenagers sparkling in the sunlight while some well muscled werewolf looks on. No, this story takes place ten years after a massive outbreak of vampirism has converted most of the Earth's population into vampires. This isn't that bad of a thing, at least not in the confines of this story. The vampires aren't necessarily bad people and they've basically converted society into one amenable to vampires. Most of the businesses and institutions that existed before still exist. They're just open all night now and closed when the Sun comes up. The problems start when the vampires begin to get too hungry. There's an old question about what would happen if vampires outnumbered humans. The answer this movie provides is, "Pretty much what you'd expect." The vampires are running out of blood and the human race is dying out as a result. There are hints that, when this first started, humans and vampires managed to coexist but now they're hunted and brought to blood farms until blood gets really scarce when starving vampires just kill them on sight.

Enter Dr. Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke). He's a hematologist trying to create a blood substitute. Edward's problem is he doesn't particularly care for being a vampire and was pretty much forced to by his brother, Al (Carl Rush). A point in this movie's favor is that, unlike most other vampire stories, the vamps here are normal people and not outrageously dressed Eurotrash types who always lean against things looking bored but you still have the "the humans are nothing but cattle" types and Al is one of those. Edward, on the other hand, cares about humans and this causes him to help escape from the authorities. These people thank him by tracking him down, breaking into his house and holding him at gunpoint (or crossbow point if you must get particular) while they ascertain whether he can be turned to work for their cause. They want Edward to find a cure for vampirism which, though he's been working hard on a blood substitute, is what Edward has always dreamt of finding. They don't have much time though. Blood is running low and it turns out that blood deprivation causes vampires to turn into crazed bat-like beings called Subsiders.

Working against Edward is his employer, Bob Evil. Oh sorry, his name is actually Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) and he has no interest in finding a cure. He even talks about farming real blood after the blood substitute is created since people will pay more for the real thing. Charles Bromley is so powerful that he'll never, ever get his comeuppance and if he does it certainly won't happen because of anything Edward does. Right?

Daybreakers is very entertaining with some clever ideas of what an all-vampire society would look like. It's needlessly gory and there's one scene where a guy's head gets pulled off that's just laughable but that doesn't hold the film back too much. I can certainly recommend a DVD rental after which you can immediately jump on your Facebook page and bitch to your friends that the vampires didn't sparkle like "real" vampires do. Still, if you're the kind of person who would do that, you stopped reading this site long ago.

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