I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "I'm a sucker for a good vampire movie..."
...this one, however, was far from good. I was hoping I was wrong when I pre-ordained it as being an Anne Rice-style version of the Matrix. I could not have been more correct in that assumption.
The movie poster pretty much gave that away.
Jeremy Piven's Ari Gold once sold a bad movie with a good trailer in the HBO series ENTOURAGE. Somebody pulled off the same coup with DAYBREAKERS. I'll admit, when I saw the trailer I was intrigued, however anything longer is the Director's Cut.
Sure, there are some underlying messages represented in the film about the plight of the less fortunate in society, the greed of pharmaceutical corporations outweighing the good of the masses, but they are presented in such a manner as to be too obvious and therefore insulting to the viewers' intelligence. A little subtlety goes a long way, and this film has none of it.
The story is simple: in a futuristic society which really isn't too specifically defined in the film, there are more vampires than humans. The humans have been reduced to an endangered species and most have been rounded up to be turned into feed bags for the vampire population which has taken over society and ultimately the world.
BUT, the vampires are running out of humans, and that means no more blood. Now this is about the only part of the plot that I give kudos to the writers for. With all the glamorization of vampires in the media today, it is refreshing to touch on the fact that sure, it'd be cool to be immortal & beautiful like everyone in the movies, but what happens if there were too many vampires? They'd run out of food! I'll bet most Twilight fans never thought to get that deep on the subject...
In the film, vampires who are deprived of human blood for any extended length of time eventually begin feeding on each other and themselves, and mutating into "subsiders"--a more primitive nosferatu of the winged bat-like humanoid kind. The subsiders are treated as animals rather than sick vampires and exterminated holocaust-style by dragging them into the sunlight, John Carpenter-style.
Our hero(or Neo) of this macabre Matrix is Ed, a vampire hematologist who resents his vampiric state of being, pities the humans and is trying to create a human blood substitute for the vampires to feed on. With the help of his new-found female human friend Audrey (Claudia Karvan, who acts and even LOOKS like Trinity from the Matrix), they take on the insurmountable task of trying to defeat the corporate vampire army bent on enslaving what's left of the entire human race.
Aside from the fact that the beginning scenes of the film elicited laughter from the audience, it becomes increasingly difficult to take anything too seriously in the film, especially with Sam Neil as a vampire. The "Dinosaur Man," as he shall forever be remembered, spends the entire film tripping over his fake teeth and speaking with a rather noticeable lisp which ruins any chance at suspension of disbelief.
We also eventually meet Elvis (Willem Dafoe), a crossbow-toting human-turned-vampire-turned-human again, as the comic relief /savior /"cure" for the vampiric disease. His one-liners, like "I love a good BBQ" would make Hannibal Smith of the A-Team cringe, with his famed "I love it when a plan comes together!"
Incidentally the best part of this movie experience in my opinion (and the rest of the audience, judging by their response), was the preview for the new A-Team movie opening in June. And if THAT isn't an indicator of how bad DAYBREAKERS was, well, you'll just have to see for yourself.
When DaFoe's character performs a heroic act near the beginning of the film, an audience member screamed "ALL RIGHT, GOBLIN!" and that, as they say, was that. The movie is so difficult to watch without laughing it can best be compared to "Army of Darkness" in it's absurdity. Unfortunately, that is NOT what directors Michael and Peter Spierig had in mind.
The gore fest and special effects are much more over-the-top than one might expect to see, as vampire films of late have for the most part remained rather subtle in this regard. Not so here. Decapitations, severed limbs, and spilled organs are not implied but presented in graphic if not borderline comic detail, and gallons of blood are slung all over the set and camera lens.
Ed's "Neonian" narrative at the end of the film is the nail that closes the coffin on this film, confirming the Matrix theory and causing a collective eye roll of everyone who sticks around long enough to hear it.
The film is campy, at best. Vampire fans will undoubtedly go see it (or at least DVD/Netflix it) if for no other reason than it's a title to add to their list of "been there, seen that" fang films.
Other than that there is no reason to waste the price of admission, as there are better things to do with 1hr 38min's of your life.
1★ out of 5★