1 hour, 38 minutes
In the not so distant future of 2019, most of the human race has been transformed into vampires. Surprisingly, life still carries on as normal; vamps head to and fro, shopping and working. The only difference is that they walk in tunnels, drive cars with blacked-out windows, and buy their blood from cafes like Starbloods. Okay, I may be exaggerating that last part, but blood is their only food source and it is depleting rapidly, thanks to vampiric overpopulation and a nearly extinct human population.
Charles Bromley (Sam Neill, Event Horizon) heads a company that is looking to supplement its farmed human blood with a synthetic substitute. However, all attempts by vampire and hematologist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke, Gattaca) to make fake blood have failed. This really sucks for Edward because he is a human sympathizer. As the food supply dwindles, Edward crosses paths with a cadre of human refugees. One of their leaders is Elvis (Willem Dafoe, Shadow of the Vampire), a human-turned-vampire-turned-back-to-human miracle. Edward goes AWOL to do his people one better than an alternative food source; find them a cure.
That may be one long-ass synopsis, but you'd be surprised at all the details I omitted. That's because this story, written and directed by Michael and Peter Spierig, is a carefully crafted concept in every facet. It's an ingenious alternate reality, equipped with potential for a thousand stories. The Spierig brothers have a difficult time parsing out only those essential story elements. One prime example; a home invasion by a blood-starved vampiric mutation is menacing and foreshadows the approach of darker times, but goes underutilized.
In front of the camera, appropriate casting helps smooth over those rough patches. You couldn't make a better choice than Ethan Hawke for the brooding, angsty, pale lead. A personal favorite, Willem Dafoe, chews up the scenery as the quirky, to-the-point wild man. Sam Neill rocks the douche in the key of D-bag Major. Michael Dorman, who portrays Edward's brother Frankie, didn't impress, but wasn't given much to work with.
The only nudity to be found are the numerous men and women that dangle their bits from the farm's blood-drawing facility. You gotta wonder how that casting ad was worded:
needed to literally hang in background
scenes. Women with saggy titties a plus.
Thsee vamps prefer their blood in their coffee rather than straight from the tap, but hold out until the end for an insane bloodbath. Since vampires flame and explode in the Spierigs' world and the humans are tranq'ed for domestication, don't expect too much gratuitous gore.
The Money Shot
Expecting little from this flick, I was delighted to discover Daybreakers was built upon a solid foundation. Mediocre execution and one or two unneeded final twists stumble its potential to become a burgeoning franchise. As it stands, I'd definitely give an unrated version the chance to show me more.