Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Daybreakers (***)

Daybreakers. 98 mins. R. Written and Directed by The Spierig Brothers. Starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Isabel Lucas, and Sam Neill.

Alternately sloppy and smart in equal doses, Daybreakers had the potential to be a classic genre film, but settles for just satisfying B-movie fans. If John Carpenter had directed Children of Men, and vampires were added, it would have looked a lot like this. The year is 2019, and vampires have taken over the planet. Human blood is in short supply, and humans themselves are nearly extinct. Hope arrives when a ragtag group of human survivors (is there any other kind?) team up with a kindly vampire scientist (Ethan Hawke), and attempt to find a cure for vampirism while escaping the clutches of evil corporate goons led by the sinister Sam Neill. This is all well and good, and if the movie had taken its time, and set itself up for a trilogy, it would have been much better. But writer-directors the Spierig Brothers (the gory Undead) have a hard time taking things in moderation, and throw everything they can on the screen. Some of it works (the early set-up of the vampire world is creepy, interesting, and well-defined) and some of it doesn't (Willem Dafoe - hamming up a storm), and the tone veers wildly from serious to silly. Daybreakers tries to be a credible allegory for the oil crisis, but every time a head blows up or the blood gushes in ridiculous doses, you just have to laugh and accept it for what it really is: B-movie fun, nothing more, nothing less.

- John


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