Amidst the slew of vampire themed television series and films that have sprung up thanks to the successful Twilight series, Daybreakers seemed to offer something new. A world where vampires have become the dominant species and humans are the ones being hunted looked to be a refreshing take on the vampire legend. And it was, for about ten minutes.
In a world where a plague has transformed most of the human population into vampires, those that remain are hunted and farmed for blood. But faced with a critical shortage, Edward Dalton is tasked with developing a substitute. Instead he finds himself helping a band of human survivors who have found a cure for vampirism itself. Now human once more Edward is pitted against his former boss, a pale-faced and fanged Sam Neill, as he tries to cure therest of vampire-kind.
“a bat flew across the screen on no less than three different occasions”
The source of the many problems with Daybreakers is a lack of focus. The writers/directors, the Spierig brothers, appear uncertain about what kind of film they’re trying to create. I’m not asking that they neatly pigeon-hole their production into a specific genre, but they need to make a film that is at least coherent. Instead we are faced with one that seems to jump between genres from scene to scene rather than subtly merge them together. The result can only be described as a complete mess of a film.
At times there are attempts to turn the story into a drama, specifically by making it into an allegory about discrimination in our own society. Every time it tried to do so it failed miserably. Scenes where the audience should be on the verge of tears instead induced laughter. This is largely thanks to other moments in the film where it abruptly turns into a horror movie. So, whilst conceptually the film may well be a mess, all too often it is literally so. On several occasions we see bodies exploding, blood splattering, heads cut off and limbs flying. This would be expected if you’d walked in to see Hostel or Saw, but for a film like this it was clearly excessive and jarred violently with the dramatic element. It came across as cartoonish, completely undermining whatever emotive power the scene was supposed to have.
“The result can only be described as a complete mess of a film”
On top of this, also reminiscent of the horror genre, the filmmakers for some reason felt the need to include numerous attempts to give the audience a quick scare. These included a bat suddenly flying across the screen on no less than three different occasions. As with the cartoonish violence these shots had no place in this film, appearing almost at random and interrupting scenes rather than adding anything. They came across as cheap, lazy tricks, in the end serving only to push this film further towards becoming an unintentional comedy.
An interesting premise is not enough to save Daybreakers from its ridiculous and incoherent realisation. It takes a lot more than a good idea to make a good film.