Friday, January 6, 2012
It all started in 1922, with a gaunt, ghoulish, rat-like creature who by day, slept in a coffin, and by night, awoke to imbibe the blood of village peasants to stay alive, in a black and white German expressionist film called Nosferatu. The next time movie audiences would experience blood meals being sapped from mostly unwilling victim's necks would be by wealthy, fanged, undead European aristocrats from the 1930's through the late 70's. Then, in the 80's, came the new wave of night feeders in the form of glam-rockers, motorcycle gangs, strippers, outlaws, and even suburbanites. The vampire of the 90's and 2000's were a mostly reluctant, and considerate sort of bloodsucker, save for the vicious vamps in From Dusk Till Dawn and John Carpenters Vampires, but overall lacked the bite of their fore-bearers. At present, there appears to be a Renaissance of the vampire in popular media culture with a spike in supernatural romance novels, comic books, television shows like the Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, True Blood, and a slew of new movies, spoofs, and don't get me started on the ones that sparkle... It could be said that the once fierce and fiendish fangs of the modern vampire have in many ways been filed down for mass appeal. That is why The KVLT is offering up a bloodsoaked, by-the-throat, review of a modern vampire flick that not only puts a new and refreshing spin on a tired mythology, but also reminds us that those casket-napping, arterial connoisseurs can still be effectively horrific.
Daybreakers depicts a futuristic society where the vampire population has overrun and almost tapped it's human meal resources into extinction. Realizing that a new and more sustainable food resource is needed, vampire scientists are working to develop a sanguinary substitute to curb the looming blood crisis. Meanwhile, a rogue group of human survivors with the help of a vampire scientist, may have found a cure for vampirism. They must stave off the nightly vampire attacks and stay alive long enough to use the cure to not only initiate a paradigm shift in the human to vampire population, but to potentially eradicate the vampire gene once and for all.
Outshining the recent trend of monotonous modern vampire movies with it's revamped vision of the undead, Daybreakers doesn't retract it's fangs for one moment, leaving them fully extended for some serious scares, on-screen violence, bloodletting, and biting social commentary. In this world of waining blood supplies, some vampires are capitalistic cut throats, some are middle class just trying to make it night to night, others are consumed by their bloodlusts and have become underground dwelling parasitic beasts and are a threat to humans as well as vampires. Which touches on today's very real energy crisis, the stock market fallout, the stress of the disappearing middle class, and the disenfranchisement of the poor in the western world. But all politico aside, the film still packs enough action, suspense, violence, gore, and legitimate horror without completely sacrificing the story or characters for cheap thrills. Not that the KVLT is against cheap thrills mind you. It also sports a few well known actors like Willam Defoe, Sam Neil, and Ethan Hawke, who lend their thespian credulities to an albeit offbeat genre effort that definitely stands out in the "What-The-Fuck" category of their respective career catalogs. Although, Daybreakers comes across as a very professional and measured film, Directors Michael and Peter Spierig, aren't necessarily veteran filmmakers and they stick close to their B-movie roots. In fact they have only made one other feature length film prior, 2003's sci-fi, zombie epic Undead. Much like Undead, Daybreakers, feels like a tailor-made genre piece procured by genre-obsessed movie nerds. Baring that in mind, The KVLT will cut it some slack by overlooking some of the plot and character inconsistencies as well as the the wooden acting perpetrated by Ethan Hawk. But realistically, does he know any other kind? It's by far more entertaining and interesting than 30 Days Of Night, Fright Night (remake) it doesn't fall apart in the final act like Stake Land, and it's definitely a million times better than the Twilight and Underworld movies. But the last part should go with out saying.
So if vapid television teen vamps aren't your blood bag, the flood of theatrical and direct-to-video vampire spoofs have become too anemic, the "sparkling sad sack suck saga" and Fright Night remake are enough to give you an aneurysm, find a new untapped vein and give let Daybreakers have a shot. It's kind of like if I Am Legend (sans Will Smith) and 28 Days Later were blended into one movie and filmed by the creators of From Dusk Till Dawn.
Fun Facts about Daybreakers:
Daybreakers can be easily lumped in with the hundreds of other vampire movies, but it's also an Ozploitation movie since it was made in Australia by Australian filmmakers.
Daybreakers was shot in 2007 but not released until 2010.
In Daybreakers, Willam Defoe, plays a cross bow-wielding, former vampire and human resistance movement leader named Elvis. The movie was released theatrically on January 8th 2010, Elvis's birthday.