Daybreakers - Blu-ray Review

'the opening third as a whole is very strong and hints that Daybreakers might have more to it than your average vampire actioner'

Daybreakers is the work of twin brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, who made the whole thing in Australia for a paltry $20million - a real steal when you consider that for that money they managed to get Ethan Hawke to star and still had the loose change available to get Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill in meaty supporting roles.

Like most modern entries in the vampire genre the brothers Spierig (who both have writing and directing credits on the film) play relatively fast and loose with the mythos. Their vampires haven't really lost any of their human characteristics, vampirism instead being presented as a plague that humanity has learned to embrace and understand. There's no mention of the more traditional stuff like crosses and holy water, although sunlight is definitely an issue. This threat is illustrated by the brothers in the pre-credits opening, which is dark in both tone and subject and serves as possibly one of the best openings I've seen recently, establishing as it does that this is a vampire populace in trouble and at a loose end.

It's followed by a fantastically shot credit sequence which displays cinematographer Ben Nott's work to a degree which is sadly absent from the film proper although brief moments of beauty are allowed to creep in on occasion. The opening third as a whole is very strong and hints that Daybreakers might have more to it than your average vampire actioner. Edward (Hawke) and Bromley (Neill) are nicely conflicted characters who add an unpredictable air to the script which sticks around for most of the runtime. It's a pleasant change of pace from most thrillers of similar ilk which, if they don't telegraph their entire plot, at least telegraph their character development and really, the only major player who's destiny is mapped out from the very start is Edward's brother Frankie (Michael Dorman).

Daybreakers' big problem is in its final reel which sees the brothers engage in some frankly ridiculous splatter-core nonsense which looks out of kilter with the rest of the film. Whilst they're indulging in ripping characters limb-from-limb the plot goes walkabout; a key character disappears for the entirety of the final sequence only to (shock, horror) show up at just the right moment whilst all sorts of other rules (vampires blowing up when you kill them) go out of the window to facilitate the Spierigs' vision. It's a weak and deflated final half hour or so which sees many a character mutter such truisms as 'well, it's all finished then' at any moment when arterial spray isn't hitting walls, floors and everything else at an alarming rate.

Largely successful but suffers distinctly from a weak final third where the directors seem to forget what made Daybreakers' opening so unusually strong.

Look further...

'a poor, unoriginal storyline with unconvincing special effects and characters that really aren't inspiring' - The Film Obsession, 2/5


  1. I'm wondering if there were any cool features on the Blu-Ray? Also, the film lost me during the second act when Ethan Hawke SPOILER!!! found the cure to vampirism. I thought it was a ridiculous idea. I actually enjoyed the splattering at the end, it was darkly comedic but I'm a bit warped. But having characters jump in and out of the film due to convenience of plot only was a weakness of the film. You're right, it had a strong first act in setting up a great atmosphere, but didn't follow through. However, as vampire films are my genre of expertise, I had to say that I found some original ideas thrown about such as what happens when vampires start feeding on their own blood.

  2. As far as I remember I think the blu-ray I got was a vanilla disc so no features I'm afraid - could be wrong but if they were there I didn't get the chance to check them out, sorry Lyz!

    I think we largely agree on most of our points; it did have some unique ideas that it delivered quite well but others fell flat and there was definitely a sense of several things being unrealised with the script slowly petering out towards the end. Just enough made it through to recommend it though I reckon!

  3. This sounded interesting when it was released. Not a big fan of the vampire genre (can I say genre?) but might give it a look.

  4. If you want to get technical, sub-genre would probably be the proper term.

  5. If you're not at least interested in horror/thrillers in some way Chris then I would probably give it a miss but yeah, if you've got a slight interest anyway then it does have something to offer.

    I bow to Lyz' expertise on where it sits genre-wise!