Saturday, May 9, 2015

Daybreakers (2009)

Directors: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Writers:    Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Cast:        Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill

In the year 2019, a plague has transformed almost every human into vampires. Faced with a dwindling supply of human blood, the fractured dominant race plots their survival; meanwhile, a researcher (Ethan Hawke) works with a covert band of humans survivors led by a former vampire (Willem Dafoe) on way to save mankind. 

The film came at a time when there were numerous vampire films getting released along with the 'Twilight' films. I don't know whether that would have helped or hindered the prospects of this film, nevertheless,  it made a very decent $50 million at the box office on a budget of $20 million. Like Spierig Bros' 2014 film, 'Predestination', this one was also made in Australia. Last year we had three great vampire films which did interesting things with the genre through subversion-Only Lovers Left Alive, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night and What We Do In The Shadows. Daybreakers also subvert the genre conventions by setting it at a time when vampires are dominating humans and they themselves are on the brink of collapse due to human extinction. The most valuable resource in this world is human blood and there are firms who farm humans in a very 'Matrix' like fashion and the Pharmaceutical company the researcher works for offers blood substitute. Many directors would have taken the lazy route of explaining this cinematic universe through narration but in Daybreakers things are revealed in a gradual manner, trusting the intelligence of the audience, and this keeps the first hour of the film very interesting. After that it kind of descends into a typical genre film with lots of gore and action sequences. The vampire society is also very much like human society that it replaces, with class stratification, similar kind of blood-sucking corporations etc. 

Overall it is a great watch even though it is not a perfect film. Surprisingly enough, Willem Dafoe was quite underwhelming in this film, and you don't say that about him in almost any other film. It was good to see Sam Neill playing the antagonist role in his typical screen-chewy fashion that I am familiar with from 'Peaky Blinders'. Makeups and effects were quite good and the production value is great considering the budget. It is not as good as Predestination but is still a great watch.

Rating: 4/5