Sorry, real vampire fans. There are still two more entries in the Twilight series on the way, which means the Twihards will be counted among your loyal ranks for a bit longer. But their zeal is indicative of a broader vampiric renaissance, and for every one of those ridiculous teen angst-driven stories, there seems to be a very cool 30 Days of Night or a darkly funny Thirst to excite those of us who don’t want sullen bloodsuckers.
Daybreakers, the newest anti-Twilight film, comes from the brother team of Michael and Peter Spierig, who gave us the excellent but little-seen zombie tale Undead a few years back. This time they’re setting their story a decade into the future, where men and women live a “normal” life — getting a good day’s sleep, waking each night and wiping that sleep from their yellow eyes, brushing their fangs, and dressing nicely to go to their jobs. They likely can’t tell if their hair is neat because they have no reflections in the mirrors. And, oh yeah, they’re all immortal.
Well, they’re immortal if they can get enough human blood. Ten years earlier, you see, there was an outbreak of a disease that snowballed into an epidemic, turning most of the world into vampires. At the fi lm’s start, less than 5 percent of the human population remains, so there’s a blood shortage, and if the vampires don’t get enough of that red juice, they... well, let’s just say they begin to change, and they don’t make very good company for humans or vampires.
Laced with dark humor, fl ying body parts, and some wild action, the Spierigs’ sometimes brooding and sometimes effectscrazy tale comes directly out of the old school of vampire stories, but it has an abundance of twists and turns that make it completely fresh.
Ethan Hawke plays Edward, a depressed vampire who’s also chief hematologist at a company that runs a human-harvesting facility. Vampire CEO-from-hell Charles
Bromley (Sam Neill) runs the company with his yellow eyes focused only on consumerism of two kinds: drinking and moneymaking.
But meet the humans, among them Audrey (Claudia Karvan) and Elvis (Willem Dafoe), who are hiding from the vampires and trying to fi nd a cure for vampirism in order to save the human race.
One note: Elvis is a former human turned vampire turned human again.
On the way to the multistoried fi lm’s conclusion, we’re offered a pulse-pounding car chase (vampires, remember to set your vehicles to daytime driving mode); a look at the population of vampires rioting over blood shortages; some grisly military action; and a rather interesting use of crossbows.
There’s too much melodrama in an unnecessary angle about Edward and his brother Frankie, and some overkill in the gore department. But no one can put down a vampire story in which someone rides off into the sunrise.