"Daybreakers" - A Vampire Movie Review

Updated on May 8, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interest is science fiction and zombie movies. Pessimistic and survival films I also enjoy a lot.

Written and directed by the Spierig brothers, Daybreakers is a unique and interesting take on the vampire genre.

The premise is pretty straightforward. In 2009, a plague caused by a mutated bat infected the majority of the human population, turning them into vampires and causing a global power shift. 10 years later, the few free human beings left are hunted and "farmed" in order to guarantee blood supplies for the vampire population.

In this new world order, "daily" activities are done underground or at night. Daybreakers does an exceptional job imagining this city where the sun exposure burns its inhabitants. The routines, the social and working relationships and even the architecture embrace the new vampire paradigm.

Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is the lead hematologist of the pharmaceutical company Bromley Marks, the largest supplier of human blood in the world. Even though he is a vampire, Dalton has an openly pro-human stance and spends his days researching and developing a blood substitute that will drastically change the predator-prey relationship between vampires and humans.

However, things get worse when Dalton's boss Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) reveals that the human population is on the verge of extinction and blood supplies will last only a month if an alternative isn't discovered soon.

The human blood shortage begins to generate cones of violence, largely caused by the fact that starving vampires are quickly degenerated into "subsiders", psychotic bat-like creatures with primal killer instincts.

The plot thickens when Dalton meets a community of human survivors led by Audrey (Claudia Karvan), who have a breakthrough that can change everything. An ex-vampire named Lionel "Elvis" Cormac (William Dafoe) has managed to regain his humanity after an automobile accident that briefly exposed him to sunlight.

In other words, with the tiny right dose of sunlight (one that doesn't burn them alive, that is), vampires can come back to life.

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As an entertainment flick, Daybreakers is a decent film, with a gorgeous direction, a stylish blockbuster cinematography and a cast of great actors playing visually striking characters. And with the correct amount of body explosions and blood splatters, Daybreakers put itself right in the front of the horror audience rather than the PG one, which speaks volumes about its commitment to its story.

But when Daybreakers truly shines is when it works as an excuse to display raw analogies about the most predatory and primitive aspects of our humanity.

It's inevitable to see that obvious mirror in several scenes. At times, Daybreakers is a cynical reminder of our carnivorous nature, assuming total control over the more defenseless animal species. In other moments, it's a bleeding statement on how we, as humankind, fear change and always choose the safest and selfish route.

With the "subsiders", the analogy about how the social and economic exclusion make us victims and perpetrators at the same time is anything but subtle. That wonderfully absurd scene in which the vampire police forces attack their colleagues after immediately perceiving them differently is a wonderful portrait on how greed and xenophobia fuel our violent actions.

Daybreakers was overlooked on its release, maybe in part because of the overexposed pop vampirism of the media in the form of Twilight, True Blood, and Vampire Diaries. But make no mistake, this film deserves to be revisited for its entertaining, bloody, non-preachy narrative about the predatory vices of our humanity.

Movie Details

Title: Daybreakers

Release Year: 2009

Director(s): The Spierig Brothers

Actors: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, a.o.

4 stars for Daybreakers

© 2019 Sam Shepards

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