Rated R 98 min. 2010

Daybreakers is a pretty ambitious genre effort that’s occasionally capable of fulfilling those ambitions. When it doesn’t, the attempt is still noteworthy and the results at least entertaining.

Set in 2019 when most of the world is inhabited by vampires — a change to which humanity seems to have adapted, except that the food supply has all but run out. What few humans the vampires have are traded like commodities, kept alive and systematically drained of their blood, while a blood substitute is sought. Their hopes are mostly pinned on Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), a scientist with moral qualms about the whole business of vampires. Things change when he’s recruited by humans for their cause — a cure for vampirism, which is built around Lionel “Elvis” Cormac (Willem Dafoe), a former vampire who, through a process no one quite understands, has been returned to human form. Not surprisingly, there’s less demand for a cure than one might suppose — especially where his boss, Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), is concerned. There’s nothing all that revolutionary in any of the plotting and the film will ultimately back itself into a corner from which it can only extricate itself by turning to utterly predictable dramatics.

Thankfully, even when it becomes predictable, Daybreakers is enjoyable. But what’s most interesting about the film lies in its overall tone. There’s a bit of early David Cronenberg here — it’s almost what you might get if Cronenberg from his The Brood period had made Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men with vampires. That’s neither as flippant as it sounds, nor is it wide of the mark. The results are imperfect, but it’s still one of the better horror films to come along in a while. Better yet, it actually has something on its mind.

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig

Writer: Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig

Producer: Chris Brown

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Claudia Karvan, Isabel Lucas, Michael Dorman, Vince Colosimo, Christopher Kirby, Renai Caruso and Jay Laga'aia



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