Imagine a near future where a plague has turned most everyone into a vampire, or just let “Daybreakers” do it for you.
In the film from brothers Michael and Peter Spierig (“Undead“), Ethan Hawke is Edward Dalton, a vampire who works as a hematologist for a large pharmaceutical corporation headed by the greedy Bromley (Sam Neill). Dalton’s charged with finding an acceptable blood substitute to keep vampires alive, because the human population is next to nil. No blood, no life — the situation has grown dire.
During a late-night car accident, Dalton encounters a small group of humans, including the beautiful Audrey (Clauda Karvan), who trusts him enough to forge a meeting with her pal Elvis (Willem Dafoe). See, Elvis used to be a vampire, but became human again, and if it can happen to him, maybe a cure can be manufactured for everyone. Dalton goes underground with him to try and do just that.
Despite the beginning-to-end presence of vampires, “Daybreakers” is no horror film, but an action/sci-fi hybrid. The world the Spierig siblings imagine lays out unique ways for vampires to live during the day (an underground system of tunnels, screened-out car windows with roof-camera navigation) without being scorched by the sun. Their film looks slick, and moves as such, easily recalling the “Blade” trilogy, especially in the rapid-fire battle sequences between vamps and humans.
This is an effects picture, not an actor’s showcase, although Dafoe sure has a ball playing the slightly unhinged outsider who speaks his mind — a specialty of his. At just over 90 minutes, the movie wraps things up before it can grow tiresome. For what looks like not a ton of money, the Spierigs deliver a better-than-average vampire flick that’s also something different.
Suck it, “Twilight.” —Rod Lott