This year, I’ve been doing epic reviews (i.e, ultra ridiculously long reviews, complete with summaries, random notes, and spoilers) on every new horror film that I’ve watched. However, tonight, I’m feeling lazy, and I’m skimping out a little. Therefore, you get a slightly-less-epic review (i.e, ridiculously long review made up entirely of random notes) on vampire flick Daybreak.
Overall, despite some cheese and a few musical score problems, I kind of liked it.
*There are no spoilers in this review. However, I can’t control what anyone puts in the comments section, so be warned for that.*
1.) There aren’t actually that many vampire films that I like. I’ve always been surprised by this—I know I’m missing some serious classics (I haven’t watched Let the Right One in or its American counterpart Let Me In yet, as well as Thirst or Near Dark . . . and that one, I will be watching, because a vampire movie with both Adrian Pasdar and Bill Paxton is just screaming for my attention) but still, there are just so many bad vampire movies. Offhand, the only ones I can think of that I really enjoyed were Interview With the Vampire, Underworld, and Lost Boys . . . and Underworld’s fun but nothing special, and I don’t have the crazy nostalgia for Lost Boys the way that most fans do, because I didn’t grow up with it.
However, I’m pleased to add Daybreakers to the happy-vamp-movie list. It’s not that the film doesn’t have some problems (we’ll get to those) but seeing the vampires as the norm instead of the creature on the outskirts is really interesting. Some of the exposition was a little obvious, but I liked getting a good picture of what a society would look like if vampires had taken over the world, humans were outlawed, and blood was on seriously short supply.
I’ll admit, I was kind of hoping to see more “good vampires,” you know, where you feel sympathy for the humans and vampires equally instead of “pro humans, pro humans, pro humans,” but the story works, and, for the most part, I enjoyed it.
2.) It is, I think, a requisite now to have at least one broody, hot vampire:
As if Ethan Hawke could be anything but broody. Reality Bites follows you everywhere, buddy.
3.) Acting is . . . so-so in this movie. Ethan Hawke isn’t really anything amazing, but he’s got a few lines and reactions that I like. Sam Neil is serviceably fiendish. Willem Dafoe is . . . Willem Dafoe. Seriously, I kept going back on forth on his character, Elvis. Of course, it’s Elvis. Why not? Dafoe would give a delivery that I’d be all into, very badass and casual and awesome, and then he’d bring on the Southern drawl, like, times 80, and I’d be like, Dude, you’re trying waaaay too hard here.
This right here, though? This is good:
4.) Per usual, the weakest link is, naturally, the woman. It’s not so much the acting as the character . . . she’s there to exchange some meaningful looks with Ethan Hawke, occasionally shoot something, and get herself snatched at inopportune moments. Also, she’s not American. Half the cast tries for an American accent, and the majority of that half fails. Actually, she’s Australian, and she was SO much more badass when she guest-starred on Farscape as this lovely blue woman:
Natira Forever! You were creepy.
5.) Other problems: the musical score. Most of the time, I didn’t notice it, but there were two scenes in particular when it just SWELLED to ridiculous heights. Like, thanks people. Triumph. I got it.
6.) I feel a little bad for suicidal vampires. I mean, it must be hard. If you’re choices are essentially
A: Burn yourself to death with sunlight.
B: Stake yourself in the heart.
C: Decapitate yourself.
. . . there’s just not a good winner, there. I mean, I guess I’d go sunlight—it’s quicker, and I’d hate to see what you’d look like if you failed to decapitate yourself properly—but burning alive is on the top ten ways of not going out, and it just must suck to be a vamp who sees no point in continuing on.
7.) I do like how Daybreakers treats the vampires who are starving. Yes, it’s not a subtle metaphor to how the middle-class and the rich treat the homeless, but it works, and there’s one scene in particular that I think is pretty effective. It’s actually not a bad metaphor, if you think about it. These people could be you.
8.) Most of the special effects are adequate, but there are a couple of times that I cringed a little, and not in a good way. One chase scene ends in a pretty awful CGI crash. Another scene, there’s a decapitation that’s . . . well, it’s fun and gory and all, but wow, that head doesn’t even look remotely real.
9.) If I can be burned alive in a matter of seconds by standing in direct sunlight, then, seriously? Fuck you, whoever wants to meet me under the shade of a godamned tree. I’m staying my ass inside, thanks.
10.) I kind of like Frankie (our broody protagonist’s somewhat less broody brother) but I feel like the movie would have been stronger if we got to really develop more of their relationship. Which, there might have been time for, if you cut out the bullshit sexual tension between Broody Eddy (ha! I didn’t even think about his name being Edward. Bwahaha) and Boring Audrey. In fact, cut out Boring Audrey all together. You know why? Cause she’s BORING.
11.) Exploding vampires are all the rage this season:
12.) Finally, a survival tip: if your enemy, whoever they are, is more likely to come out/attack/find and/or eat you at a certain time of day, DON’T TRAVEL DURING THAT TIME OF DAY. Honestly, people. It’s like you WANT to be murdered.
Tentative Grade: B
Moral: errr . . . humans rule, vampires drool?