Movie Review – Daybreakers (2009)

Daybreakers (2009), written and directed by Australian filmmakers Michael and Peter Spierig, depicts a dystopian near future in which vampires, their mythical lore a reality, rule the world. Here humans are an endangered species who are either in hiding or are factory farmed for their blood. Unfortunately, the blood supply, along with humanity, is running out, and starving vampires are morphing into ravenous bat-like creatures who stalk both vampires and humans alike.

There are varying feelings among the vampires, with some sympathizing with humans and loathing their present form, including the main character, Edward Dalton (played by Ethan Hawke), a hematologist working on a blood synthetic. He is approached by human rebels in need of his help to develop a vampirism cure. However, most vampires are nothing like Dalton and love being immortal bloodsuckers, content to gorge on the red commodity no matter the cost.

Daybreakers still.

The cinematography is wonderful and while some of the make-up and CGI effects are terrific, some look rather awkward. Nevertheless, the film boasts a strong cast with Hawke, Sam Neill, and Willem Defoe, an intriguing script, unflinching gore, and a twist that will keep you interested to the end.

Just as importantly, Daybreakers is a film whose veins are brimming with metaphor. The vampires are a reflection of our modern society, addicted to human blood, which is fast depleting, rather than taking nourishment from baser, though less satisfying animals. Similarly, we are dependent upon a finite supply of the world’s oil or we feed upon animals without regard to moral considerations or the effects our lifestyle and diet has upon the natural world, merely because it’s inconvenient for us to do so. Replace oil or animals for any number of malicious habits we have that do serious harm to the planet and its population. Likewise, the vampiric elite greedily isolate themselves from the hardships of the lower dregs, caring nothing for those beneath their class. Many could readily accuse today’s upper echelon of much the same disregard for those not within their tax bracket.

Daybreakers is a smart horror film that has a lot to say about the present. If vampires could see their reflections in the mirror, they would look like you and me.

Grade: B-

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