Daybreakers – what a bloody mess

daybreakers movie poster

Oh dear. And it seemed like such a good idea at the time. The vampires have taken over the world and established a night-time society, sadly seemingly stuck in much the same pattern of commerce as ours, but alas, they’ve literally drained their food supplies to the point of extinction (humans be warned: this could happen to you). It’s a race: to track down the last humans, to synthesise a blood replacement, or find a cure. At the end of the day, the future of the planet actually comes down to corporate greed. The leeches!

Daybreakers fails to deliver on its promise. Once the story starts and people start talking, it quickly turns into a bloody mess. Maybe that’s me looking for a shiny new take on vampirism when all that was ever on offer was just more schlock hanging off a neat idea. Nothing wrong with schlock, mind you; it’s just, I wanted more from this. I’m not sure why.

The Spierig brothers’ previous movie, Undead, was gloriously schlocky, even with aliens, and I loved it. So maybe I shouldn’t have expected this to be any different.

But, what the hell is with the bats? I haven’t seen such horrible effects since Hammer Horror (hurray, back online and makin’ movies!) dangled a stuffed one on wires and jigged its wings about. The bats, flitting about both night and day and glorying in swooping the camera, were inappropriate, cheap, tacky.

And where was the logic? Does not drinking human blood make vampires turn into primal bat-things, or doesn’t it? If vampires can survive on pigs’ blood a la Nick Knight, then why don’t they? Why does mixing blood with your coffee (just coffee, we presume, the only foodstuff on-screen – viscera notwithstanding) make it palatable? Why does Ethan (and his little heart-monitoring do-hickeys) not burn but Willem gets toasty scarred? Why does throwing gratuitous buckets of blood and hosting cannibalistic frenzies (really blurring the line between vampire and zombie, there, lads) make boys coo with glee?

And isn’t it a sad day, really, when you have to (presumably to secure funding) throw some weird-arse colour filter over your lens to try to disguise the fact you shot your movie in Australia, not the US of A. Location was hardly a factor in the plot, so why force the crap accents on otherwise wonderful actors? Admittedly, I was familiar with a hell of a lot of the scenery in Daybreakers, it being filmed around my former hometown, but I’m still scratching my head about the massive Moreton Bay fig having pride of place on a ridge somewhere in Nowheresville, USA.

Stupid lookouts who get surprised in daytime when they’re standing in the middle of a massive open space with 360-degree visibility; humans who simply must charge around in convoys at night; a seemingly endless stream of last-minute saves by the handy off-screen ally. And even in 2019 we’re still trying for the (presumably) heart shot with a crossbow. Oh God. And did I mention the bats??

I’m sorry, but ‘because it looks cool’ is not a sufficient answer.

So, Daybreakers for me is a B-grade vampire movie, maybe flitting down around the C+ level, which puts it on a par with the rest of the Aussie crop. Sigh.

[Addendum: What I liked about Daybreakers: the concept; the visualisation of the vampire society; the fact that being a vampire didn’t automatically make everyone a martial arts expert; no wire work; female lead Claudia Karvan not being made into some kind of sex-glamour-combat heroine (but she gets jumped twice, dude, so a little nous might’ve been nice); that the hero’s brother has the actual hero’s arc; Sam Neill]

Here, have some decent bats, care of a certain Nick Cave and his Birthday Party. And someone pass me a copy of Near Dark and a bottle of red. Cheers.

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8 thoughts on “Daybreakers – what a bloody mess

  1. Argh… this review is disappointing as this movie is on my list of “must sees”.
    Sounds as though the only reason to watch it is for the scenery and icons of Bane, which may or may not be worth my $9.50?

  2. Tell us what you really think Jason!

    I liked it a lot more than a number of people have, the various science issues didn’t enter my frame of reference so I was there to see Vamps sucking and getting staked.

    Three issues cames to mind.

    1. The ending, dear god in heaven I hate open endings that just screem out Television series, look what happened to poor Blade.

    2. Those fracking bats. I kind of thought that would be the last change coming over the Subsiders, but oh no it’s all “check us out we’re winking at Hammer”.

    3. There was something else but have forgotten it.

    All in all a decent enough flick to catch on half price Tuesday. Lobbing to see it again this weekend.

  3. Actually, a TV show – not too many episodes, mind – might give it the breadth to actually round out the world and make more sense of it. And yeah, I agree: worth the price of admission on a cheap day.

  4. Pingback: Top five vampire and werewolf movies « Vampires in the Sunburnt Country

  5. Pingback: An interesting read. I actually have some ideas about this. Do you accept guest articles on your blog?

  6. I don’t run guest blogs, but I do allow trackbacks so visitors can see if someone has made a related post of their own. Ah, Daybreakers, so close but yet so far.

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