Daybreakers (2009)

(In theatres, January 2010) Every genre fan comes to develop a fondness for “the B-movie that could”, the twice-a-decade film that comes along with a little budget and big brains to take the genre in a newish direction.  While that’s a lot of praise to dump on Daybreakers all of a sudden, consider that it manages to combine horror and science-fiction to imagine a future society that has adapted to the fact that most people are vampires.  Add a few action scenes, Willem Dafoe playing a redneck with a fondness for crossbows and muscle car, tons of special effects and a script that doesn’t devolve into total silliness and the result is an impressive piece of work, especially in the doldrums of January.  It’s a savvy piece of work, one that privileges quantity of special effects, little details and genre-blending to deliver a mean and lean movie.  The direction is pretty good, the thematic underpinnings are solid, the pacing always accelerates and we have the sense of watching something that hasn’t been done before (no, Ultraviolet doesn’t quite compare).  It’s not a perfect piece of work: Ethan Hawke is a bit dull, some of the details make no sense, and the revelation on which the third act depends seems quite a bit… convenient.  Nonetheless, Daybreakers is a vigorous, stylish, entertaining B-movie that will earn quite a few admirers.  It’s probably my favourite vampire film since Blade II, and it pumps some blood back into what was becoming a tired monster.  I’m not sure what the writer/director Spierig brothers will do next, but I’m already interested.

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