BLOOD SIMPLE “Daybreakers”, reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized by MOVIE, REVIEWED on January 8, 2010

BLOOD SIMPLE – “Daybreakers”, reviewed

by Gregory A. Butler

The best dramas – the only REAL dramas, in the classical Greek sense – are the ones that take the hero out of his normal environment, sends him on a journey and, in the end, the journey fundamentally transforms him.

Those dramas are even better when the writers create a whole new world, on the surface totally different than the one we live in, but in a real way fundamentally the same – and, despite the many surface differences, the writers actually make us believe in that world.

Australian auteur twin brothers Michael and Peter Spierig succeeded in creating just this type of drama with their film “Daybreakers”.

We enter the Spierig’s world in April 2019, a decade after a virus – spread by bat bites – has infected most of the world’s population with vampirism.

And yes, folks, these are classic Bram Stoker-style vampires – they catch fire if they are exposed to sunlight, they cannot see themselves in mirrors and, most importantly, they subsist on human blood.

That blood thing is getting to be a bit of a problem.

95% of the world’s human population is extinct (from the whole blood drinking thing, of course) and the world’s vampires only have one month’s worth of drinking blood left.

And that’s kind of a big deal, since, in this universe, vampires who go more than a few weeks without human blood devolve from civilized nocturnal goth-types who are partial to 1940’s style fashion into horrible violent monsters (monstrous even by vampire standards) who will destroy every one and every thing in their path.

That’s where Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) comes in – he’s a hematologist for the corporation that has monopolized the extraction and distribution of human blood.

As you might imagine, scientists who specialize in the study of human blood are pretty damned important in a world ruled by vampires.

Dalton, a vampire with a soft spot for humans, is hard at work on a blood substitute – not just because a bloodless world would spell doom for his species, but also to save the last humans from being driven to extinction.

The story takes off when Dalton encounters a hardy band of human survivors, led by Lionel “Elvis” Cormac (Willem Dafoe) a former auto mechanic (he used to customize cars so vampires could drive them during the day) who now is organizing the human resistance to the vampires.

As we discover, Elvis has the solution to the twin dilemmas of vampires and humans within himself – literally.

Incidentally, this film has a subtle critique of modern American consumerism hidden inside of the science fiction/action adventure story – this diseased vampire world has spawned a whole consumer culture to help the vampires normalize their bloodlust and it’s consequences – from Chrysler sedans with tinted windows and video monitors that vampires can drive during the day to a Starbucks like chain of coffee stores (where they add blood, instead of milk, to your drink).

It really makes you think of how dehumanizing our society’s consumer culture is – again, another mark of good storytelling, put a social message in a film, without beating the audience over the head with it.

Daybreakers” is one of the best vampire films I’ve seen in a long time – it succeeds not only as a genre picture and as an action film, but also, in the most fundamental classical sense, as a drama.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is unwatchably bad – 10 is incredibly awesome) I give “Daybreakers” an 8.65


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