Thursday, March 18, 2010

DAYBREAKERS - An Aussie' VampireLand'

DAYBREAKERS (vampire thriller)
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan, Michael Dorman, Vince Colosimo, Isabel Lucas and Sam Neill
Directors: Peter and Michael Spierig
Screenplay: Peter and Michael Spierig
Time: 98 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

Hawke and Dafoe in DAYBREAKERS

PREAMBLE: It is rather obvious that Aussie siblings, Peter and Michael Spierig, had planned to make Daybreakers in the style of Zombieland, especially with its post-disaster landscape, social pecularities and touches of humour. Daybreakers is about a world dominated by vampires - and while the Spierigs have fashioned a fascinating vampire society and its 'infrastructure', its narrative seems to slip and stumble every now and then. It is technically brilliant but narratively dull.

THE SKINNY: It is 2019 and after a vampire plague has swept the world, everyone’s now a bloodsucker. The human population, after being hunted and 'farmed' for their blood, is getting extinct. There is hence a need to find an alternative source of 'blood' for the vampire population and this job falls on Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke).

His boss, Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) is adamant not only about finding synthetic blood but also more sources of the genuine article for special clients. Edward's life changes when he runs into a small group of humans led by Audrey (Claudia Karvan) and a man who calls himself Elvis (Willem Dafoe). Edward agrees to help them, but has no idea what he's in for.

HITS & MISSES: Indeed, the vampire genre has come a long way since the days of Christopher Lee's mesmerising bloodsucker. Vampires have taken on new personalities - from cold and pale but sexy youths the likes of Robert Pattinson (in Twilight) to romantic hunks like Stephen Moyer's Bill Compton (in TV's True Blood). In Daybreakers, they are neither romantic nor scary and horrible blighters. They are just blood-hungry and dull.

This especially applies to Hawke's character whom the Spierigs rely on to advance the story but had not made much effort to develop his character. Thankfully, there is Dafoe to provide some humour and heroics, and Sam Neill who can always be relied on to provide the menace. Craven gives the movie its much needed feminine angle while Isabel Lucas brings some life and energy to the film as Bromley's daughter. Halfway through the movie, we get the feeling that there's so much more to Daybreakers than the Spierigs have developed here. It could have been an interesting TV series too.

THE LOWDOWN: Shot entirely in Australia, it boasts spectacular effects and cinematic artistry. Other than that, it is mostly old blood.


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