The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, January 15, 2010

Daybreakers (2009)

"Daybreakers" is actually a quite clever vampire movie, a tonic for those tired of the angst-y glittering fanged folk of a certain other series. And make no mistake: Daybreakers is positioning itself as a potential series.

Set in a mysterious world where an "outbreak" of vampirism has turned 95% of the population into blood-sucking freaks, the movie rather ingeniously creates a world designed for Vamps, not humans. Starbuck-like coffee stands with blood instead of cream. Vast "farms" where sleeping humans are drained of blood. Automobiles designed with cameras instead of mirrors for the rear-view, with shutters to keep out the daylights. Undergrounds of frantic, increasingly despairing human beings. And in the midst of all of this you have Ethan Hawke as a "good vampire" researcher searching for a cure. Add Willem DeFoe as a former vampire who may hold the secret to survival of the human race, and you have a delicious brew.

The colors are washed out, the violence fast and furious (and, when it comes...very wet indeed. You've been warned.) But the overwhelming impression is that these filmmakers, Peter and Michael Spierig, are intelligent and have a wicked sense of humor. I'm giving it a strong "B."


Rather interestingly, the Spierig brothers do something very similar to what the Wachowski brothers did in "Matrix." The vampires are virtually all, and I mean all, white. The human population is diverse. Not sure what metaphor they were reaching for, but its interesting to me that I haven't read a review that notices this--slips right past if you aren't sensitized. What do you think they were trying to say, hmmm?


Vince Moore said...

Actually, Steve, not all of the vampires were white. The vampire senator helping the humans out was a black man, a Maori more properly. I don't fully recall seeing or not seeing any other vampires of color one week later. But, in this case, you can't say there wasn't at least one character of color in a position of power.

Scott said...

For that matter, if you stayed out of the sun for a few years, you'd be a lot whiter too, right?

Anonymous said...

I think anyone who makes a vampire movie is going to be extra careful not to evoke "Blacula" if at all possible. This may lead to over-correction at times, but it's surely understandable . . . .

Alexander Pournelle said...

Just saw "Daybreakers" myself, since Avatar was sold out. Thanks for pointing out the white-ness, which I can't say I noticed, either. Agree with Vincent, the Maori vampire-senator-with-a-conscience was about the only black face who happened to be a vamp.

I agreed with John Nolte's review: This was a movie proud to be nothing more than it was, a solid B-movie. I didn't see this flick as a series, interesting take there.

I was curious why it sat on the shelf for 2 years, was curious how much was cut out (Courtesy Segway?). Bit uneven in editing, still loved it.

Anonymous said...

I was able to suspend disbelief for all of the vampire stuff, but the notion that Crysler would still be making cars in 2019 was simply too far-fetched to get past. Kinda ruined the movie for me.

Anonymous said...

Anon, if the world is run by vamps they can raise a company from the dead.

Unknown said...

This movie had so much potential, a great premise that hasn't really been done in Vampire flicks to date.

Yet it fails so miserably because someone, somewhere, can't do certain things.

Military can't be good - they have to be the fully on bad guys. Yes, it's the vampire army but they still shouldn't be all bad.

Corporations have to be evil, never mind that it makes little to no sense how they are acting. Nor do we need to explain things - Evil = profit = corporation = destruction of us all (be we Vampire or Human): need anything else need be said?

The rest of the movie so strongly plays off of that so it kinda flops. There are some good moments in the film but they are mostly tertiary to the story.

The best I can say is that the movie wasn't formulaic and had some good idea to explore. After that it failed to explore them and would have been better off following a popular formula.

It was worth a once see but no more than that. Even then it is mostly so because of the lack of other things to watch. Avatar should have been seen by now and the next best after this is the Book of Eli (which I haven't seen yet).

Shady_Grady said...

I am still waiting for a vampire movie that can get back to the horror aspects as opposed to the monster movie aspects.

"Daybreakers" was okay but ehhhh..

Looking forward to your review of "The Book of Eli" which I saw yesterday.

Anonymous said...

I'm here merely to point to Chris Muir's brilliant take on the film:

Chas C-Q

Anonymous said...

I consider vampires stupid, actually. However, if you follow the tradition, vampires are supposed to be evil. To have a movie about evil beings and at the same time give a sambo alert doesn't make sense to me. I'd think for once it'd be okay for all whites to be depicted as evil. Without blacks to fall back on as scapegoats.

But i know. I know. There are too many good black themes in the movies. I mean, good role models. Black males having good sex. The whole nine yards. It may be time to reverse the trend and remind people how scary blacks can be.

But I'm with you. Why should the white devils take all the credit for being evil? Shame. Shame. Let's spread the evil around.

I can see the future blockbuster now: The Invisible Dark. "White Fang, Red Blood, and Dark Skin. You'll never see it coming."

Someone pinch me. I'm scared of the dark.

SAMBO ALERT: Expect the popcorn to be white and the butter to be yellow. What's up with that?

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

"what the Wachowski brothers did in "Matrix."

The Matrix's cyber-gestapo appear to be a pale allegory for The Establishment, which has nearly always been White in the West. More interesting, the uber-Whiteness of the Matrix nasties may reflect a deeper artistic convention. Paralleling the traditional equation in Western literature of Blackness with evil and savagery has been that of extreme Whiteness with death. This is epitomized by Moby Dick's White Whale, the significance of whose color Melville pontificates about at length. The Moby Dick-infatuated writers of Star Trek drew from this convention in making the Borg bone-white, as they explicitly showed in First Contact.

Mike said...

One thing I wish would get more screen time is Vampires (in all their shapes and forms throughout various cultures) as a tribal myth to help people understand sociopath's - who at best guess make up around 5% of the human race and are disproportionately represented in positions of power (Smart sociopaths are able to fake being normal enough that they can work their way up within the system. Dumb sociopaths have no internal constraints of something being "wrong" and can't fake being normal well enough so they tend to end up dead or in jail)

Unknown said...

I would say that vampires are mostly protrayed by white people because pale skin combined with blood red lips is more scary looking and gothic.

paul a'barge said...

slips right past if you aren't sensitized.

I used to be sensitized but I deprogrammed myself.

I highly recommend it.

criticpapa said...

Ive seen this movie just a week ago! this was another best vampire movie of all time. next to blade.

mind if I put a link back to you?
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