“Daybreakers” – 2010. Dir. The Spierig Brothers

With Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Isabel Lucas and Sam Neill

“Living in a world where vampires are the dominant species is about as safe as bare-backing a five dollar whore.”

  • Elvis (Willem Dafoe)

The year is 2019 and humans are an endangered species and vampires have become the dominant members of society. They now track and capture humans to harvest them for their blood. Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is a scientist for the “corporation” and has been working day and night on an alternative to human blood; looking for a substitute so the vampires won’t die off.

Things are becoming complicated, there isn’t enough blood left in the world for the vampires to survive (doesn’t that sound like oil to you?) – they begin rioting and feeding off one another and by doing so they become these mutated human-bat hybrids. They’re pretty freaky. Edward (you think they would have changed the characters name) has a resentment for vampires, and feels sympathetic towards the humans considering he used to be one.

The head of the corporation, Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), is watching Edward carefully. He has a feeling that Edward is not dedicated to his work. As where Edward wants to find a cure for everyone being vampires he also wants to keep humanity alive – Bromley wants to prolong the vampire existence and he doesn’t give a fuck about the humans. Bromley believes they are blessed with immortality – that it is divine intervention.

Edward gets into a car accident on his way home from Bromley’s office. The other car is filled with humans who are scared and want to kill Edward. He talks them down and says he wants to help them. He helps them escape and the next day he is contacted by one of the humans he saved. She gives him a map to a location where Edward is supposed to meet them at noon.

Edward then travels the next day at noon to meet them. And who does he meet? Willem fucking Dafoe. Awesome. Dafoe (named Elvis in the movie – HOT!) was once a human turned vampire then back to human through this accident that seems to be a miracle. Together Edward and Elvis try and save the human race.

The production value is excellent. It’s a very film noirish feel and look. Every man is walking around in a fedora and a trench coat; all the women mainly have their hair up in a bun and have dresses on. Everyone is walking around smoking and drinking coffee. It’s a lot like “Blade Runner” or even more so – “Dark City”.

The area in which Edward lives are nostalgic of the “cookie cutter” homes built during the economic boom of the late 1940’s to the 1950’s. It’s just an excellent way to establish the rebuilding of the vampire society.

I’ve never really been a huge fan of Ethan Hawke, and this film doesn’t really thrill me with him either – I’m just slightly indifferent towards him. Where I am really pulled into the film is not only the great production value – but with the addition of Dafoe and Neill who are two of the most underrated actors out there.

Neill is perfect in the film; he has this thick and gravely American accent that reminds me of John Huston. The contacts that they have over the actors eyes, showing us that they are vampires just adds to the creepiness of Neill, he’s always holding a big cigar and is dressed like Warren Beatty. Neill is the highlight of the film.

Willem Dafoe is just amazing, the roles this guy chooses is amazing. I’ve never really seen him fluff (although “Speed 2” was pretty shitty but he was alright in it, everyone works for a paycheck from time to time; unless you’re Daniel Day-Lewis). He is great as Elvis, wielding a shotgun/crossbow. There is just something about him that brings our attention directly to him. His face is odd looking, his voice is distinctive – he’s just amazing.

The film is just so creative – showing how vampires drive during the day – they have thick tints over their windows and a 360 degree camera on top of their car that feeds a video image into the interior of the car. That’s pretty slick.

Bottom line this is a pretty good film that is dealing with a genre that is being beaten to fucking death these days. There are some things in the film that don’t make a lot sense, and some of the acting is pretty weak. I think that the blood symbolizing our dependence on foreign oil was really creative and smart – but it was a little much at times. The weak parts of the film are very much outweighed by Sam Neill and Willem Dafoe.

I’ve always liked the “post apocalyptic” themed films and films that deal with vampires and this film is extremely smart with the way it brought the vampire genre to a new level. I still want to see a film that deals with the rebuilding of society after the apocalypse happens, I think that’s why I like “28 Weeks Later” so much.

Can someone answer me this: why is Willem Dafoe just so fucking awesome?

Review: 8/10


Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

10 thoughts on ““Daybreakers” – 2010. Dir. The Spierig Brothers”

  1. I’ll respond to your question:

    Why is Sam Neill so fucking awesome?

    Neill and Dafoe are brilliant in this movie, and while Ethan Hawke does a fine job of carrying the story it is the measure of good and bad between the two that really keeps the fire burning throughout.

    Glad to see you liked it as well. It was an incredible early 2010 surprise.

    1. My fondness for Neill stemmed from seeing Jurassic Park as a child, and blossomed with “The Hunt for Red October” and “Dead Calm”. I think he brings this unique authenticity to each role he takes on. I think he’s a wonderfully talented actor.

      1. Dead Calm?

        Hmmm, with Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane? It’s been a few moons. I need to revisit that.

        And yes, agree on all of the above.

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