Hollywood's burgeoning library of vampire flicks gets a bloody new addition this week with Daybreakers, a grisly horror-thriller that adds a dystopian twist to the increasingly well-worn bloodsucker mythos. If Twilight is the Romeo and Juliet of the vampire genre, Daybreakers hopes to be its Children of Men. But hope, as they say, is not a plan. Nor is it a particularly effective filmmaking technique.
Set 10 years in the future, Daybreakers envisions a world in which a nasty plague has turned all but a tiny fraction of the planet's population into vampires. But instead of descending into the kind of violent anarchy one might expect after such a catastrophic event, folks have adjusted surprisingly well, retrofitting their lives to accommodate their vampiric needs. (Potentially fatal sunlight, for example, is avoided with an elaborate system of underground walkways and computerized sunrise alerts.)
But all is not well in the future vampire world. The supply of uninfected human blood, upon which the civilization depends to survive, is dwindling rapidly, and attempts to synthesize it, led by Ethan Hawke's reluctant biotech researcher Edward Dalton, have thus far proved disastrously ineffective. (A side effect of the latest blood substitute, for example, is an exploding head. Ouch!)
Dressed in a drab black suit and hat, his alabaster vampire complexion rendered even more pale by his moral objection to drinking human blood (he subsists instead on vastly inferior pig blood), Hawke's character looks something like a Hasidic heroin addict (see below). Appalled by his company's lucrative side business of imprisoning uninfected humans in vast blood farms (akin to the warehouses of "batteries" of The Matrix), he revolts against his smoothly sinister boss (Sam Neill) and joins a rag-tag resistance group led by a homespun mercenary (Willem Dafoe) who claims to have discovered the cure to vampirism.
Aside from leads Hawke, Dafoe and Neill, Daybreakers' primarily Australian cast (the film was shot entirely in Australia) stages a veritable tour-de-force of bad B-movie acting which, combined with the film's occasional subpar production values, gives it the overall feel of a low-budget late-night "skinemax" flick. In lieu of gratuitous nudity, however, directors Michael and Peter Spierig substitute copious gore, piling on the bodyparts until the film devolves into a bloody, incoherent mess.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.