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  Daybreakers The Stuff Of Life
Year: 2009
Director: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Claudia Karvan, Michael Dorman, Isabel Lucas, Vince Colosimo, Jay Laga'aia, Mungo Mackay, Emma Randall, Charlotte Watson, John Gibson, Robyn Moore, Christopher Kirby, Glen Martin, Renai Caruso, Damien Garvey
Genre: Horror, Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the future and a plague has changed humanity, seemingly for good. Or rather, humanity remains the same, but the infected have become vampires, and such was the virulent spread of the condition that normal humans are very much in the minority, left fugitives from the ruling vampire classes. However, thanks to their increasing scarcity of numbers, the people's blood has become a valuable commodity, especially when a complete lack of blood can make a vampire into an unthinking beast within a couple of weeks - can scientist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) find a cure?

Or is a cure what is really wanted? Could it be that a greater access to the surviving members of humanity is what is required? As you can see, the Spierig brothers whose second feature this was had spent a lot of time working out the minutiae of their fictional world, and it certainly paid off when you could believe this would be the way Planet Earth might end up should vampirism ever become an unchecked actuality. Up to a point, anyway, as once they established their premise there was a danger never very far away that this was going to be yet another of those action horror movies such as Ultraviolet.

Which not everyone was going to get along with, though to be fair to the brothers they did have a few thoughts in their script which drew parallels between the love of blood and the need for money, apt considering the way the globe's finances were going to end up around the point Daybreakers was released. Whether that was intentional or not, the themes of the haves and have nots were intriguingly developed, even if they did end up going to places we had seen many times before, but it was true the storyline was not as strong as the imagination that went into crafting the landscape of a world overtaken with vampires might have been.

So it was your basic freedom fighter versus the totalitarian state business of countless science fiction movies which was on offer here, only with an Australian twist not unlike that of the previous big Aussie bloodsuckers flick from the seventies, Thirst. There was a similar offbeat take on such a society, though here the rough edges had been smoothed to create a chiller that could have been made anywhere (everyone has generic American accents), which left you picking through this in the hope of seeing something original - at least the Twilight haters could satisfy themselves watching the supernatural entities really biting their victims' throats and gorging themselves on their precious bodily fluids.

Hawke made for a hero more at home with thought than action, though that didn't prevent him indulging in the latter when push came to shove. His screen brother, Michael Dorman, is an enthusiastic soldier for the government but Edward is swearing off the red stuff, knowing that it will make him degenerate into a more monstrous form, but hoping he will make a breakthrough in his synthetic blood research before then, though that looking less likely as the nights go by. The main baddie was Sam Neill's Bromley, a powerful businessman who wants to find his uninfected daughter (Isabel Lucas), which leads to at least one interesting sequence where the evildoers must recognise their ghastliness of their actions head on so that they cannot dismiss what they have done. Willem Dafoe showed up as a character called Elvis who might have a way out of this situation and Claudia Karvan became Edward's human ally, both underdeveloped, so not as groundbreaking as it could have been, but it held the attention. Music by Christopher Gordon.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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