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Daybreakers film review

Tuesday, 05 January 2010 14:11

The year is 2019. Two-time Oscar® nominee Ethan Hawke is genetic researcher Ed Dalton, a valuable commodity in this brave new world, as a virus has transformed the globe's population into vampires. The ordinary humans, just 5% of the population now, are near extinction. They are being harvested for their blood, and much like cod and haddock in 2010, they are almost the victims of genocide. The answer to worldwide shortages may be a blood substitute in development, but heaven help anyone who thinks a cure might be possible. 

Sam Neill plays the creepy Charles Bromley, who a decade previously was diagnosed with cancer, just before the plague began.  It was something of a no-brainer for him to effectively ‘volunteer’ to become a vampire. He is the head of Bromley Marks, a corporate giant that drains human blood for profit as well as having its fingers in all sorts of businesses, including housing and other properties.  He sums up the attitude that has become prevalent in his circle: “It’s never about a cure; it’s about repeat business”.

Daybreakers movie in the cinemas

Charles Bromley’s decision is the really scary plot point at the heart of this movie: people would rather keep their ‘life’ at any price; they will ‘sell out’ to become a vampire, taking that transitional bite, rather than stand up for their way of life and, effectively, their liberty. As an allegory, here we are today in a world where an Orwellian nightmare is rolling out before us, and it’s quite easy to believe that by 2019 our life will be completely unrecognisable. That is, unless we all band together and take a stand RIGHT NOW against what is unfolding before us.

Back to the movie, and beneath the underground tube stations there’s another subset of vampires evolving. Called ‘Subsiders’, they have mutated following the drinking of fellow vampire rather than human blood.  They take on the look of gargoyles, with every aspect of humanity deleted from them.

There’s an undercurrent of comparison between blood and oil at work here, in that both are liquids which the dominant species in the world, now and in the future, depend upon. Profits are to be made from both, and this profiteering over-rides common sense.  What a pity that unlike this vision of the future, the reality of today could not be further from the truth (oil is not in short supply; for instance, new fields have recently been found in Iraq that dwarf everything that has been extracted from that country to date.  Funny that we’re never told that …).

Australian writer-director brothers Michael and Peter Spierig are the whiz-kids behind this movie.  Already fascinated with the horror genre, this is a development of their oeuvre, moving on from their 2003 breakout hit “Undead”. They certainly know how to assemble a Box-Office-inspiring cast – Willem Dafoe appears as Elvis, a former vampire who has found the secret of salvation; he demonstrates that, much like using peanuts to treat peanut allergies, there’s a ‘route one’ way to solve the vampire plague.

The movie concludes by demonstrating what can be done through the equivalent of ‘viral marketing’.  Anything is possible in terms of what can defeat the seemingly unbeatable, but is it always the case that the ends justify the means? However, it never quite washes away the truism that once you become evil, you are always evil…

There’s a prevalent antipodean aspect to this cinematic escapade – Claudia Karvan (the human love interest) and Michael Dorman (Ed’s militaristic brother, who would sell his grandmother if a profit was possible) are stars ‘down under’.  Meanwhile, Isabel Lucas, formerly Tasha Hunter/Andrews in Home And Away, gets a marquee-topping billing alongside Hawke, Dafoe and Neill - despite being in the movie for very little screentime. This is certainly an Australian whose star is in the ascendancy in both the USA and the UK – she played Alice in “Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen”, and will shortly be seen in the remake of “Red Dawn”, as well as the Spielberg WW2 epic telly mini-series “The Pacific”.

This movie is full of jump-in-your-seat shocks, as well as blood and gore (and I’m not talking about the business partners at the heart of the climate scam when I say that!).  In fact, I had to double-check what on Earth had happened at the BBFC when they gave it a ‘15’ certificate … it has all the plot aspects and graphical visual effects that scream ‘18’ at you.  Well, we had six seconds excised from the original cut to get the ‘15’, but that was all. Perhaps the BBFC is getting soft – there may be no sex (which seems, for some reason, still to be more of a victim to censor scissors than violence), but I have real concerns about giving it such a lenient certification – the assorted incidents of spontaneous combustion alone are particularly stomach-turning.  Am I getting old?

And let's not forget you ‘conspiracy theorists’ out there. For anyone who has followed the work of the likes of Zecharia Sitchen, David Icke and Alex Jones, there will lurk a simmering undercurrent of the ‘global conspiracy’ that hides the stealing of energy, blood and negative emotion from a ‘dumbed-down’ and traumatized human race. Theories have for a long time been doing the rounds that a global hidden collective (some call them ‘The Illuminati’) has for years been keeping the human race in ignorance of their true divine nature. We have unwittingly been providing an energy source for an unseen parasitic negative race. Do these beings come from other worlds, dimensions of existence, or maybe both?

For anyone familiar with these topics it wouldn't be a big jump to change the word ‘vampire’ to ‘inter-dimensional’, ‘extraterrestrial’ and/or ‘reptilian’, and instantly “Daybreakers” becomes a piece of evidence, flaunted in plain sight so that we give away our power by not reacting. Maybe it is the case that “the names have been changed to protect the sources”, meaning the story is true? Perhaps the ‘Nephilim’, ‘The Watchers’ or ‘The Fallen Angels’ really are here, and don't have humanity's best interests at heart? The film becomes a hint for those in-the-know, who can watch it with discerning eyes.

“Daybreakers” could well put itself up alongside “The Matrix” as a revelatory text for adults (children have their equivalents in “Monsters Inc” and “Coraline”). There seems to lurk a striking similarity in all their plots. Either way, “Daybreakers” is a great film, with or without its conspiracy elements, and succeeds in its goal to add new creativity to the horror genre.

“Daybreakers” is a Lionsgate and Paradise Production, in association with The Pacific Film and Television Commission and Furst Films, released nationwide from Wednesday 6 January 2010, with a running time of 97 minutes and a ‘15’ Certificate.


CAST & PRODUCTION TEAM                                

Ethan Hawke as Edward Dalton               

Willem Dafoe  as Lionel ‘Elvis’ Cormac                          

Michael Dorman as Frankie Dalton            

Claudia Karvan as Audrey Bennett                     

Sam Neill as Charles Bromley                   

Isabel Lucas as Alison Bromley                

Vince Colosimo as Christopher Caruso                 

Paul Sonkkila as General Williams                                          


Directors/Writers: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

Producers: Chris Brown, Sean Furst, Bryan Furst

Line Producer: Stuart Wood

Co-Producer: Todd Fellman

Director of Photography: Ben Nott

Production Designer / Costume Designer: George Liddle

Casting Director: Nikki Barrett

Editor: Matt Villa






Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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