When All is Dark in Daybreakers

At long last, Daybreakers delivers a vampire tale that is deserving and worthy of the Nosferatu Award.

Ed Sum

Daybreakers movie posterWhen watching a new vampire film or television shows these days, there’s obviously going to be a romance. They are great films for its intended audience, but when will purveyors of classic horror get what they want? At long last, Daybreakers delivers a vampire tale that is deserving and worthy of the Nosferatu Award.

Sure, there are a few problems, like some silly bits of scripting, a subplot that isn’t fully explained and one huge chase taking up the last part of the movie, but that also happened in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In both the literary and cinematic versions, Van Helsing and his team were chasing Dracula back to his homeland of Transylvania.

There’s some great gory effects to enjoy and some cheap startling thrills. That’s what one gets in any horror flick; those are to be expected. This latest outing by writers-directors Michael and Peter Spierig can’t be faulted. They understood the medium enough and kept a few things from modern interpretations of vampirism.

Some see it as a curse (Interview with a Vampire) but the brothers envision it as a disease (Forever Knight). But neither interpretation helps how the vampire still feels. Sometimes they seek redemption and that’s what Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) yearns.

He’s the unwilling hero to a world that’s devastated. In 2019, the world is populated with people needing blood to survive and one corporation rose to power by becoming a major player. With haemoglobin as a dwindling resource, Dalton is working to ease the rationing by trying to synthesize a chemical substitute. But along the way, he meets up with a handful of survivors led by Lionel Cormac (Willem DeFoe). They want his medical expertise to solve a mystery and find a solution to keep the human race alive and well.

Just like any other tale, he has to decide on which path he wants to take. But the corporation he works for has other plans. Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) leads that pack and Cormac is just a man trying to survive.
The Spierig Brothers broke into cinema in 2003 with Undead, an interesting comedic zombie film, and five years later, they’ve opened the coffin to what purists demand in a vampire film.

Daybreakers premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in Sept 2009 and it was a runner-up to the Cadillac People’s Choice Award. Their take on the vampire myth is a refreshing relief from a market that is flooded with teeny-bopper romance tales. With more films under their belt, they can prove to be a dynamic duo for future genre films. All they have to do is to avoid is the overuse of cinematic clichés in their films.