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REVIEW: Daybreakers

REVIEW: Daybreakers
5 years agoby:
8 10

PLOT: In a world where 95% of the population are vampires and slowly starving to death due to lack of human blood, a vamp blood chemist, Edward (Ethan Hawke) tries to find a way to save both species from extinction. In the process, he teams up with the human resistance, led by a battle-hardened survivalist named Elvis (Willem Dafoe). This pits him against his own brother, who hunts the few surviving humans, so that a blood supply corporation (led by an evil vampire executive played by Sam Neil) can continue to feed the dying vampire population.

REVIEW: DAYBREAKERS is the latest film from the Spierig Bros., who previously helmed the popular Aussie zombie flick, UNDEAD. Here they move from zombies to another type of undead- vampires. Lately, thanks to TWILIGHT, and shows like TRUE BLOOD, vamps have been making a big time comeback- and this film actually has a bit in common with TRUE BLOOD (thankfully, none with TWILIGHT), as both are about a world where vampires are real, and mingle freely among the population.

However, the vamps in DAYBREAKERS are nowhere near as well behaved as Bill & the gang from TRUE BLOOD. Rather, they've spent so much time feasting on humanity, that the race is all but extinct- with the few survivors either in hiding, or hooked up to machines in blood banks that slowly drain them until there's nothing left. Of course, not all vamps are bad, with Ethan Hawke playing a reluctant vampire who abstains from human blood, and is trying to develop artificial blood in order to keep the starving vampires from turning into murderous bat-like mutants- which happens after vampires feed on their own blood in desperation.

Obviously Lionsgate has a lot of confidence in DAYBREAKERS- with them showing it at TIFF well in advance of it's January opening. I think it'll prove to be a very successful outing for them, as it's a fun, action packed horror thriller. I'd be willing to bet that the Spierigs have a bright future ahead of them in genre films, as they really know how to please their audience. The TIFF Midnight Madness crowd went crazy for it, and it has to be said- this will definitely please the gorehounds as it's a very HARD R, with tons of gore on display. Bloody as it gets though- I'm not sure if I'd really call it scary, as it's more of an action flick with some horror elements. Basically it's EQUILIBRIUM meets UNDERWORLD.

I was a bit surprised to see Ethan Hawke in the lead, as he's not really known for his genre work (although he was excellent in the unfairly overlooked GATTACA). He's very good here, and despite his star-billing, he doesn't really go over the top in terms of action movie heroics (although he does kick some serious ass towards the end). The film's real bad-ass has to be the great Willem Dafoe, who plays an Elvis Presley-obsessed human resistance leader. He gets a lot of cool scenes, including a few nifty car chases- with the vamps pursuing in custom SUV's with blacked out windows to protect them from the sun.

Also worth mentioning is the always awesome Sam Neil as the chief antagonist. Neil hasn't really been in much lately, and I have to wonder why, as he's an excellent baddie, and pretty much looks exactly the same as he did when he made JURASSIC PARK even though it was sixteen years ago. TRANSFORMERS 2 hottie Isabel Lucas also shows up as Neil's human daughter- and she actually did a pretty solid job, with her getting a lot more to work with here than she did as an evil Decepticon.

Of course the film isn't perfect. The pace tends to lag a bit towards the middle of the film after a great introduction, before bouncing back in the last act. I think this may be the result of a limited budget, as it could have used an extra action beat in this section- but that's a minor quibble.

I really think DAYBREAKERS is going to have a lot of fans when it finally comes out, and I wouldn't be surprised if this turns into a very successful UNDERWORLD-style franchise for the studio. Horror fans should be looking forward to this one.

RATING: 8/10

Other reviews from TIFF: MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS - UP IN THE AIR - JENNIFER'S BODY - THE INVENTION OF LYING

Check out Chris Bumbray's Toronto Film Fest blog at Movie Fan Central!

Source: JoBlo.com

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