Back to IndieWire

cinemadaily | “Daybreakers” Comes to Light in Theaters

cinemadaily | "Daybreakers" Comes to Light in Theaters

Daybreakers,” the vampire film that took first runner-up at Toronto’s first ever genre-focused Midnight Madness People’s Choice Award, comes from writers/directors Michael & Peter Spierig. The Spierig brothers previously previously helmed the zombie flick “Undead.” “Daybreakers,” an Australia/US co-production starring Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, is released in the US tomorrow. “Michael and Peter Spierig…place their story in a world in the near future, when whatever plague caused people to turn into vampires won out; there are few humans remaining, and they hide, so that they won’t be used as the bottom rung on the food chain,” writes the Arizona Republic‘s Bill Goodykoontz. He concludes, “The Spierigs create a nicely eerie atmosphere, one fueled on either side of the vampire equation by a desperate need for survival. ‘Daybreakers’ isn’t a great film, but it’s a good one, and in a market oddly lousy with vampire tales, it’s an original.” Nick Pinkerton, in the Village Voice, sums up the film by noting its big-issue focus, “‘Daybreakers’ dials up resource scarcity, class conflict, the Military-Industrial Complex, and big pharma. (Actual line: “It was never about a cure. It’s about repeat business.”) The rationed near-future of ‘Daybreakers’ recalls ‘Soylent Green’—except everyone knows they’re eating people, because almost everyone’s a vampire in 2019.”

Dennis Harvey, in Variety says of the film, “Take the futuristic corporate malfeasance of ‘The Matrix’ and the race to find the post-plague cure of ’28 Days Later,’ add vampires, and you’ve got ‘Daybreakers’…The novel hook has nearly all humanity turned vamp, with the mortal population — and their valuable blood — thus nearing extinction. However, the script doesn’t wring many surprises or much character involvement from the premise, and the brothers’ helming, while slick, is short on scares, action setpieces and humor.” He sizes up the market, “prospects look decent but unspectacular in all markets.” Owen Glieberman‘s Entertainment Weeklyreview, graded C, finishes with a compliment, “it’s like ‘Children of Men’ with exploding-plasma shock effects. The best thing you can say about the movie is that it pours some very old blood into a new plastic bottle.”

Horror Squad‘s critical review, by William Goss, says, “But what would Daybreakers have been if the characters didn’t matter? [ANSWER: ‘Blade 4.’] Hawke puts his brooding nature to good use before rising to the occasion; his arc isn’t terribly far off from that in 2005’s ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ remake…The closest thing to a weak link in the cast is Willem Dafoe as Elvis, who most unwittingly discovered the cure to his vampirism, and it’s not even that he gives a particularly bad performance so much as he’s saddled with an egregious Southern accent.” Bad news, considering Screen‘s Tim Grierson‘s assessment of the film’s prospects, “While vampires are hot business right now, the B-movie instincts of the Spierig brothers should see ‘Daybreakers’ appeal to genre buffs more than general filmgoers.”

Joshua Rothkopf, in Time Out New York, counters, “a darkly stylish horror film that’s unusually solid for a January release, goes a long way toward restoring what’s properly gross about them. Several disgusting scenes make the movie unmissable for goreheads.”

This Article is related to: Features and tagged ,