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Daybreakers Is Probably The Best Vampire Movie in Some Time

Written and directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig
Lionsgate, 2010

In this age of Twilight and, just before that, Underworld, and before that, the Blade trilogy, vampire movies have been on the whole atrocious.  Either the movies are pure action with no ideas or, as in the case of Twilight, they “pussify” the genre into a melodramatic soul-searching romance for teens.  Every time one of these movies bends the rules, or makes the vampires less special with guns and knives and throwing stars, it just never seems satisfactory.

You might have read the title to this review and thought I was about to gush about Daybreakers.  Well, I won’t gush, but I will say that this is pretty darn good.  It’s 2019 and the world is dominated by vampires, a plague that took place with the bite from a single vampire bat years ago.  Vampires live just like humans do, only underground a lot more.  Now, though, humans are becoming less and less, and the demand for blood is more and more, and it looks like the extinction of both races is coming.  Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is a vampire looking for a cure, or a blood substitute, that will put an end to the madness.

Some obviously don’t want a cure.  Dalton’s boss, Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), sure doesn’t.  Edward’s vampire soldier brother Frankie (Michael Dorman), who works for Bromley, doesn’t either.  There’s something about being immortal and drinking human blood that is awesome.  Edward feels sympathy for the humans, however, and is still looking for a way around their eventual extermination.  He runs into a group of crossbow-wielding humans led by Lionel “Elvis” Cormac (Willem Dafoe) and badass hottie Audrey Bennett (Claudia Karvan), who possess the key to curing vampires.  Obviously, this is a conflict for Bromley and his soldiers.

The key to this cure is actually pretty cool, taking an old vampire rule and changing it into a believable plot development, not just a convenience.  In fact, the movie is respectful of quite a few of the rules that were established way back in Bram Stoker’s original, much like From Dusk Till Dawn did, but always seems to get lost with every new vampire movie.  Eventually, this flick starts not to make sense, and the structure loses a lot of that which was well-crafted earlier in the movie.  It turns into a nihilistic bloodbath by the end of it, and the Spierig brothers actually subvert the cool vampire cure that they create into something else entirely that isn’t nearly as fun or interesting.

That aside, this is still worth watching.  This is for the guys who had to sit through New Moon.

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