film review: Daybreakers (2010)


Daybreakers poster Ethan Hawke Willem Dafoe Sam Neill

When I talked about Daybreakers the other week I mentioned that, although I thought it looked great, I was a bit concerned about the fact that I’d never heard of the writer/directors – Michael and Peter Spierig. Turns out I had reason to be concerned.

Daybreakers really had the potential to be a good film. I swear, it really did. I thought it had good solid ideas and it had a good cast; you can’t fault Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe or Sam Neill for the performances they put on. I put the blame for this terrible waste squarely on the writer/directors.

The premise is solid. It’s some time in the future and most of the people on Earth have been turned into vampires. Complete with that vampiric lust for blood. The thing is they are still essentially living human lives, they have jobs, they go shopping, the kids go to school, everything is normal except that it’s all conducted at night. And they need to drink human blood. Unfortunately for them there aren’t many humans left for the blood harvesting and without human blood the vampires turn into crazed mutants. All this you can pick up from the trailer so I’m not giving anything away there. There are other ideas that follow on for this and for the most part they are pretty sound.

The issue is with the execution. About half way through Daybreakers I was thinking “Wow, some day this could be a great remake” and I really do hope that someone does remake it. It was just a mess, the story emphasis was all wrong. They spent ages on things that didn’t matter and not enough time on things that were interesting. They tried to do a bit of gory horror then they changed their minds, they tried to do a bit of moral drama and they changed their minds. It was all over the place. It was honestly as though they took a holiday in the middle of making the film then forgot what story they were trying to tell.

Which is not to say that I regret seeing it, it was a bit of a laugh and Willem Dafoe is great fun, wish he had a few more scenes. But I can’t really recommend it to anyone. Maybe as a curiosity. It looked good as well, very… shiny. Anyway, if you are going along just don’t expect too much from it and if we’re lucky in a few years someone else will pick up the story and run with it. Preferably with the same cast but obviously I can’t imagine that ever happening. Maybe we can reverse things and an Asian director, like Joon-ho Bong (who directed The Host and Memories of Murder) can do the remake.



  1. comment-avatar
    PhilipJanuary 22, 2010 - 1:15 pm

    I’d agree with your conclusions on this one, expected so much but it failed miserably in it’s execution. It got a bit silly about half way through and went downhill from there. A case of good trailer – crap film.

  2. comment-avatar
    rosJuly 10, 2010 - 9:50 am

    Well I never saw the trailer, never heard the hype, just saw that there was a film with vampires in it. I really enjoyed this, yes it had the potential to be a little gem, but even as it stands it’s still a *great* vampire film and I’ve never understood the criticism. That said, …and I think I’ve already given it away, I have a penchant for modern vamp films -Underworld, Blade, I’ve even secretly had to watch that other trilogy whose name I will not mention -getting down with my inner angsty, teenage girl. Ugh! I would recommend spoof-film Vampires Suck just for the send up of Twilight’s starlet Kristen Stewart, very satisfying. Can’t believe I watched the third one too though.

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