PG Cooper: Daybreakers Review

Posted: December 8, 2010 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Release date: January 8th, 2010

Written by: The Spierig Brothers

Directed by: The Spierig Brothers

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan, Sam Neil, and Michael Dorman

Vampires have been dominating the entertainment industry for the past few years haven’t they. Ever since the success of Twilight, there’s been vampires popping up everywhere. Now while a vampire story about romance, melodrama, and a sparkling vampire isn’t exactly my thing, a vampire story set in a dystopian future where vampires rule the planet, that’s a lot more interesting. The movie I’m talking about is of course, Daybreakers.

Daybreakers takes place in the year 2019 and vampires have become the dominate species on the planet. The remaining humans are hunted and farmed for blood. The blood is then distributed by a company known as Bromley Marks. There is a problem however; they are running out of blood. This has led to Bromley Marks assigning scientists to find a synthetic blood substitute. The primary scientist is Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke). Edward is sympathetic to the humans and wants both vampires and humans to live in harmony. Early on, he meets up with a group of human rebels led by Audrey (Claudia Karvan) and Elvis (Willem Dafoe). The rebels want him because of his human sympathies and scientific expertise. Though he is now an outlaw among vampires and hunted by the head of Bromley Marks, Charles Bromley (Sam Neil) and Ed’s brother, a human hunter, Frankie (Michael Dorman).

I think the concept here is very clever. Most movies involving a society of vampires have the vampires as an underground organization that the humans are not aware of. A dystopian future with vampires ruling though, that’s pretty damn cool. One of the film’s biggest strengths is selling the audience on this world. The world is very dark and there is a general bleak tone to the film. One of my favourite things about the film is the technology used to accommodate for the vampires’ weaknesses. These little details were some of the most creative bits throughout the film.

While I do enjoy the premise and back drop of the film, the story at the forefront of Daybreakers isn’t that interesting. The main problem is the characters we follow throughout the film are not very likable. Ethan Hawke doesn’t really bring any personality to his character and is just plain boring. Willem Dafoe tries to be a witty bada**, but comes off as annoying more often than not. I did enjoy Sam Neil’s performance however. It was hard to really get into the story though when I felt emotionally disconnected to the characters.

The story gets significantly less interesting as the film progresses. While the concept is clever, the story becomes more and more predictable and you start to lose interest. Particularly in the third act when it becomes a fairly conventional action films. I have three problems with this. One, for a film with such an interesting premise, downgrading it to a simple action film is a crime. Two, the characters aren’t that interesting or likable so you don’t care. And three, the action scenes never go beyond being moderately entertaining.

The film had a low-budget and you can tell while you’re watching it. While I have praised the world created, it’s obvious the budget restraints prevented the Spierig from truly showing you the world and the same sets are reused a lot. The low-budget also hurts the films frequent CG effects most of which are very bad. This wouldn’t bother me so much, except several of the CG was unnecessary. The effects could have been pulled off with practical effects and clever editing instead and they likely would have looked a lot better.

It probably sounds like I really hated this film, but in truth I really didn’t. It’s very flawed and I feel there is a lot of wasted potential here, but the film is enjoyable. There’s a very neat premise, some clever additions, a solid world created, and the film is never boring. As a rental, it works fine. Maybe one day someone else will take the concept and make a truly amazing film out of it. But for now, I’m willing to settle with Daybreakers.


  1. ianthecool says:

    I liked this film a lot. I think you’re rating it a little too harshly. I this the concept was more than enough to pull this film up, and the story behind it was still pretty solid.

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