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Written and Directed by Michael and Peter Spierig
We begin in the year 2019. Having been ten years since the transition with only 5% of the human population remaining. *Though they say it started in 2009 a character mentioned 2008 so, around that time we’ll suppose* Vampires creating their own methods of living, including receiving shots of blood into their coffee and harvesting humans in order to maintain. Though tried offering assimilation, they were only met with refusal. Facing bigger problems surfacing as they find themselves adsorbed with mass consumption and struggling to find a blood substitute. Otherwise running out within the next month. Though silly things like the sun still rising haven’t gotten the best of their new world. They’ve equipped themselves with an overabundance of Subwalks (modes of transportation throughout the day) and tinted windows with cameras to navigate. Fancy that.
Chief Hematologist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) works closely with Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) in experimenting on vampire soldiers. Working for the people he strongly detest yet straying from blood, as though somehow making up for the fact. Frowned upon from his younger brother Frankie (Michael Dorman) whose liked the life he’s been living, claiming to have never have been good at being human prior. Though when Edward inadvertently runs into a group of humans, he feels inclined to help them and assist in their escaping for the time being. The one interacting with most, Audrey (Claudia Karvan), deciding to trust the kind stranger and later introducing him to fellow Vampire Lionel aka Elvis (Willem Dafoe) to help perfect what they believe to be the cure. Having a genuineness in their depiction of society that said a lot for simply being a film about vampires.
The Spierig brothers spent 2 years designing the ideas for the way they would look; having worked on the film two years prior to it’s release. Having different types of vampires, deemed Subsiders, in which would beg for blood on the side of the street. But what was worse was when their hunger became too much and they began feasting off themselves, transforming into actual creatures which started to disrupt their social standing. The entire process being so well thought out that I ended up loving the creation of the Vampire world, far exceeding other recent depictions. Though they had hoped for more time they were given 40 days to complete the film, eventually becoming in breech of their contract and having their funds frozen. In other words, losing out on some moolah. Though the finished project and slight end changing came out better in the end for all it’s troubles. They also worked four months on over 300 visual effects and having somewhere in 250 teeth and contact lenses made. Though I loved the contact aspect of having them “glowing” the entirety of the time. Especially one shot while waiting for the Subway when the lights flicker and all you see are their yellow irises. The makeup of the most extreme Subsider (one who breaks into Edward’s house) was a 10 and a half hour process being that the material was actually glued to his skin. Now doesn’t that sound like oodles of fun?
I did find it particularly funny that none of the Actors involved seemed too trilled on the topic of the Horror genre in general. Though each performed to the script’s potential. Hawke stated that while the Brothers sent over their first film and an animated version of how they envisioned Daybreakers turning out, it was the script’s strength that convinced him to take the role. Neill stating that he was in as soon as he read on the second page of the vamps getting blood in their coffee which he found hilarious. Having a subtle performance and though showing no mercy, became the man you couldn’t wait to see revenge brought upon. While Dafoe typically is a favorite, being known for the great presence he can bring into certain cult films. It seemed his character wasn’t as memorable as I would otherwise assume, simply feeling a bit out of place. Besides, after Shadow of the Vampire, I’m not sure I could find Willem any more appealing in a film about the creatures of the night. Isabel Lucas (Charles Bromley’s daughter) and Claudia Karvan, both Australian Actresses were the ones I was least familiarized with. Because while Audrey was an overall strong female character, there also wasn’t a whole lot to choose from. Liking Lucas much more as a brunette; though she was terrible in Red Dawn she had a nice side story play out in this film.
Being no secret that as time passes so does the validity of Vampires. Seeming to be getting lost between the unimaginable and the outright gosh darn ridicules nature of the entire thing. Clearly I am a fan of the older visions. Preferring to not only look past the sparkly persuasion but to as well not glance at the other unfortunate fad of them having dirty, bloody sex whenever possible. Choosing to speed up those last couple of steps that would otherwise be too difficult to manage. Their cure in this film was a bit far-fetched I felt but then again, whose to really say. It was imaginative and there is a beautiful composited scene of complete mayhem breaking out once the cure is brought into light. The only difference in the changed ending being that they drive away with the same bat from the beginning closing out the film. Feeling better if only to have that slight “what if” factor. Straying from the typical cheesed version of Edward and Audrey holding hands as they fade into the credits.