Movie Review: Daybreakers (2009)

Daybreakers was written and directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig (The Spierig Brothers – Predestination). The film is set in 2019 in the aftermath of a plague that turned most of the humanity into blood-thirsty vampires. The remaining humans (5% of the human race) are either farmed for blood in vast blood farms or are living in hiding. With the blood supplies running out and with strict blood rationing the norm, world governments are desperately searching for a blood substitute to satisfy the increasing public demand. The film centres around a leading haematologist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) whose loyalty to vampire kind is wavering after he meets a group of human survivors led by vampire-turned-human Lionel Cormac.

The 6.5 IMDB rating accurately reflects the quality of the movie as ordinary and unremarkable. The premise of the story about vampires occupying the Earth and humans being the hunted, endangered species (a.k.a. the reversal of roles from the classic stories about vampires) on paper had so much potential but the movie simply does not deliver. With the cast and the plot it should have done so much better, but instead failed to achieve its potential.

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Is it a bad movie? Well, it wasn’t particularly enjoyable. My mind wandered off a couple of times, unable to stay focused on the developing action in the film. I may even call it forgettable, except for the plot idea and the portrayed futuristic world. The directors indeed created an interesting vision of the future, with nicely illustrated city landscape, clever innovations like daytime driving systems and coffee ‘sweetened’ by blood or the delicacy that 100% pure human blood is; make up effects were excellent; the film also reflected elements of our social struggles and injustice. Other than that, the film deserves all the criticism it has received.

The movie seemed strongly underdeveloped. The script (and writing) was unconvincing and inconsistent e.g. it started off very strongly but soon went straight downhill – perhaps it wasn’t sure what it wanted to achieve. It was too short and certain cuts seemed rushed and thoughtless. The story itself was quite bland and all the plot twists were predictable. The film is described as action, horror and sci-film but it definitely wasn’t horror and action scenes were flat. It also lacked passion and drama when it came to the defining scenes in the film e.g. character deaths. Overall, the movie, as a whole, did not feel genuine. Worst of all, the ending was awful, abrupt and even lazy, thrown in there just for the sake of it with no real thought or meaning behind it.

Acting wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that good either. It was just standard acting that, most likely, was severely limited and restricted by substandard production quality and poor editing. There weren’t really any standout performances, but the film focuses more on the storyline and visual set pieces rather than superb acting.

Daybreakers is one of those films that had so much to offer, but drowned under the expectations, defined by the plot ideas, the cast and its potential. It was truly disappointing to see the film start so strongly and positively, only to diminish in quality straight after.

Bland and uninspiring comes to my mind, when I think about this film, but maybe I am being too critical. Watch it and decide for yourselves.

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