Saturday, January 09, 2010

DAYBREAKERS - Don't you want to get out of Cape Cod?

I really enjoyed DAYBREAKERS - the new vampire sci-fi flick from Aussie directors, Michael and Peter Spierig. The concept is clever, logically explored, the production design is imaginative and slick, and there's some genuinely cool gory special effects. I am shocked at just what a good job they did with such a low budget, and I can't wait to see what they do next.

So, down to the details. The concept is cool. In the near future, vampires have turned so many people that humans, and more importantly, the human blood that vampires crave, is a rare commodity. The remaining humans are hunted down and farmed for their blood by Sam Neill's powerful corporation, while the vampires desperately try to create a synthetic blood. Rations are cut, causing riots. Rich vamps are supplied - the poor become homeless, begging for a drop - and when they get nothing degenerate into feral, bat-like "subsiders". And then, the society that turned on humans, turns on itself. Set against the vampire majority are a group of human rebels and their vampire helpers, led by haematologist with a heart of gold, Ethan Hawke. Crazy ass former vamp Willem Defoe thinks he's found a cure for vampirism, which will solve the food crisis for good.....

I love the way the details of the hypothesis are worked out. I love the design of the houses, cars, and offices that allow a vampire population to live "normal" lives by night. I love the way in which all the shitty things in real life transfer and invert to the new world - like the fact that class distinctions still apply. I also love the casting of Ethan Hawke as the sympathetic vamp - ever since DEAD POETS SOCIETY he's been portraying ordinary schmos navigating through crazy events - and being utterly sympathetic all the while.

My only issue with DAYBREAKERS is a logical loophole. In a society that can farm humans for blood, why would they not also farm human ovaries and create test tube babies who could grow into a perpetual food supply? But really, I'm just being pernickety. DAYBREAKERS is a great-looking low-budget sci-fi vamp flick. It gets how to do gore. It gets how to do scares. And it gets how not to over-complicate a good thing.

DAYBREAKERS played Toronto 2009 and is currently on release in the UK, Canada, Poland, Russia and the USA. It opens on the 14th January in Singapore, Slovenia and Estonia. It opens on January 21st in Australia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland and Sweden, It opens on January 28th in Argentina, the Netherlands and Thailand. It opens on February 5th in Norway; on March 17th in France; on March 19th in Italy and on April 15th in New Zealand.


  1. Here's hoping they don't pull an Alex Proyas and have a career of always having potential but never achieving it.

    Also I hope Daybreakers spells somewhat of an end to the Australian film industry wallowing in sterile art-house (as opposed to actually decent art-house) and finally getting some genre film into the mix for once.

    Not everything has to be some half-baked suburban drama/patronising story about Aboriginals/turgid Baz Luhrmann film.

    An antipodean can only dream though.

  2. The directors did a low budget comedy horror flick called Undead that's worth watching. It's very low-budget (despite some CGI and a plane) but it's worth the effort.

  3. Re the test tube babies, I thought about that too, but it was only 10 years since it all happened, and I think it all happened so fast that the shortage of humans was already a problem by the time they realised, basically not enough time.

    I enjoyed it, but I think they dropped the ball and went too OTT in the last ten minutes. Most of the film felt quite thrillery, but it was as though, at the end, they thought: 'Hey, aren't vampire films supposed to be horrors? Maybe we ought to rip a load of heads off!' Just seemed unnecessary after spending all that time building up tension.

  4. @Ali D - I also hear good things about Undead - sort of like Braindead? It's in my Lovefilm DVD rental queue.

    @Graham - On tt babies, you wouldn't have to wait for them to get to maturity to start guzzling blood though obviously that would be more efficient. I sort of agree on the last ten minutes, but the gore was just so well done....!