DAYBREAKERS Review. [Fantastic Fest 2009]

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Written and Directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig, 2009

When I first saw the trailer for DAYBREAKERS, the Spierig brother’s follow-up to their freshman film UNDEAD, I thought two things about their take on a world overrun by vampires in dire need of some new human blood.  First, that looks a hell of a lot better than UNDEAD ended up being.  Second, there is no way that a world of only vampires could have a viable economy; if blood is their only food source, that eliminates trillions upon trillions of dollars in everything from the agricultural to shipping to utility industries with no conceivable means of replacement.

These are the things I think about when I watch science fiction — and trust me, though the horror crowd will want to hold onto it because the film has a lethal, gory seam to its bloodsucker proceedings, DAYBREAKERS is at its core a sci-fi film that happens to be about vampires.  It also happens to be a pretty damned good film.  Yes, it’s leagues better than their resourceful but lacking, low-budget zombie opus UNDEAD, but more importantly, the Spierig brothers’ script for DAYBREAKERS is legitimately concerned with the unsustainable state of a nocturnal, plasma-centric economy and a whole host of other problems that come with a world over-run with vampires, including but not limited to inter-species vampirism and the huge number of forest fires caused by transformed animals too stupid to realize that if they run out into the forest during daylight they’re going to burst into flames.

For someone like me, someone who cares about the little touches like that, DAYBREAKERS is an ideal blend of thought and action.  And though ideal for me, that may be a problem for others considering DAYBREAKERS is perhaps lighter on the horror and action foundations than one might hope for.  It’s also not flawless on the thought side, either, but it makes very noble strides into territory that no vampire film has gone before with an undead heart in the right spot every step of the way.  Ethan Hawke is suitably morose in the role of Edward, a human-sympathizing corporate hematologist who refuses to drink 100% human blood, who only wants to convince his overlords that unless a blood substitute is found (and it isn’t likely), plasma-deprivation is going to turn all of the civil vampires on Earth into ravenous, uncontrollable winged creatures of blood lust.

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