Movie #10: Daybreakers

Wow! Even in our current age of ‘fang-mania’ Daybreakers was actually a fresh take on the vampire movie — kind of a cross between True Blood and Children of Men. A plague of vampirism led to over 90% of the population becoming vampires in 10 years. That allows the filmmakers to come up with all kinds of clever what-if inventions for vampire society such as having cars darken their windows and use cameras to allow driving in the daytime; cities having “subwalk” systems so the populace can travel between locations without fear of that deadly sunlight; and the ultimate conceit is the pharmaceutical company which is basically a human blood farm. As the movie opens, Ed Dalton (played by the always pasty and gaunt Ethan Hawke) is the head hematologist at the aforementioned company, where he’s trying to develop a blood substitute (y’see, vamps have pretty much exhausted their human sources of blood, so unless they can find an alternative they will become monstrous mutations — those scary, bat-winged, feral vampires). Good thing some of the last remaining humans run into Ed and together they try to survive long enough to find a cure. I really wish this had been a TV series (or at least a mini-series) because there were so many interesting setups for characters: the pharmacorp’s vampire CEO, his errant daughter who refuses to be turned, Ed’s brother the militant human-hunting soldier, the vampire politician trying to build bridges of peace, and especially Willem Defoe’s character: “Elvis” the cured former vamp. On top of that, there was the exploration of what a society of vampires would be like. There was just so much crammed into a 90-minute story that most of it felt kind of rushed. Another annoying problem with this movie (besides the underwhelming casting of Hawke as the hero) is the inappropriately cliche soundtrack. It had all the sounds of a traditional vampire movie, with the ominous strings and swelling orchestra, but this is a futuristic movie and that kind of musical backdrop really didn’t fit. Nevertheless, this was a very interesting expansion of the vampire mythos, and had the germs of so many good stories. Plus, it was a serviceable action monster movie in its own right. (4 out of 5)

10 down, 40 to go!

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