Tuesday, June 01, 2010
It's not often that a vampire film comes along which makes me sit up and be impressed ... well Daybreakers is such a film. I'd bought it on a whim, really, despite seeing some so-so reviews around, but it's actually a really neat little thriller which turns the whole vampire/human thing around on its head and has some interesting things to say along the way. It's 2019, and vampirism has taken over the world to the extent that there are now very few humans left alive, and those that remain are living as hunted men. The vampires have taken over all facets of worldly life, building their own cars and houses with daylight warning sensors, blackout windows (they drive by seeing outside the car via TV screens) and the like. There are human 'blood banks' in which living humans are plugged in, Matrix-like, to provide a blood supply for the vampires, which they take with their coffee from Starbucks-like stalls at the railway stations and on the streets. But the blood is running out, and the vampires are getting desperate. They need to develop an artificial version fast or they will rapidly age and turn into crazed monsters without human sustenance. One of the doctors investigating this helps a group of humans, and is sympathetic to them. He discovers that one of their number used to be a vampire but is now human again ... there is a 'cure' for the vampire condition which offers another way out of the dilemma ... but the vampires in charge rather like being vampires. The film plays out a little like The Matrix (but nothing like 28 Days Later which the blurb would have you believe), with plenty of action adventure along the way, and some really neat vampire effects. The aged and blood crazed creatures that the vamps turn into are very well realised, and the accompanying documentary (which is excellent in itself) explains that vampires look like humans because they drink human blood ... so what would they look like if they drank vampire blood? The acting is really top notch with Sam Neill playing the vampire leader with suave coolness, and Willem Dafoe turning in a brilliant performance as the vampire-turned-human, with Ethan Hawke as the doctor looking for a solution. They really hold the film together and force you to take it all seriously, presenting some scary and terrifying moments in amongst the excitement, like when a group of starved, monstrough vampires are dragged into the light in chains, only to immediately burst into flame and distintegrate into ash as they go. I won't give away the ending and eventual solution to the problem here as it's pretty cool in its own right, and is worth watching the film for. I had a great time watching it, and appreciated all the details which made it original and compelling. It's certainly a film I'll want to watch again.