Saturday, January 30, 2010

Quick Look: Daybreakers (2010)

The Spierig Brothers’ Daybreakers takes place in a world of inky black and vivid white. It’s a color movie, but most of it takes place during pitch-black night illuminated only by soft, chilly, blue-tinged lights. It’s a striking vision of a world gone mad, with corporations literally draining away humanity’s life-force. You see, the movie takes place in a world that is filled almost exclusively with vampires. The few humans that do exist are either in hiding or locked in giant blood-sucking devices. This is a futuristic world that doesn’t sparkle with glamour; it oozes a sense of ice-cold danger. The Spierigs have not rested on striking visuals alone, unlike with their deliberately mucky – and consequently ugly – zombie movie Undead. Here they have written a story that moves along quickly and entertainingly, by turns suspenseful and exciting. Action beats and gross-out jump moments (with plenty of gushing gore) are well paced and the world the film creates is somewhat interesting both metaphorically and on a plot level. Ethan Hawke, playing a scientist tasked with finding a substitute for the dwindling supply of human blood, brings a believability to the world, along with Michael Dorman as his brother and Sam Neill as their slimy boss, grounding the outlandishness with a sense a weary sentiment. Unfortunately, the weak link in the movie is a human played by Willem Dafoe who is given horrible lines to say and delivers them in a way that doesn’t mask that fact. Dafoe leads a group of humans who end up convincing Hawke to help them find, instead of a blood substitute, a cure. Once the movie starts to move with this plot, it’s easier to ignore and accept Dafoe’s poorly-drawn character and get back to enjoying the production design and the shivery moments of explosive B-movie thrills and spills (and splatter).

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