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Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010 09:37 am

Daybreakers has bite

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Ethan Hawke plays Edward in Daybreakers.

As I walked in to see the Spierig Brothers’ Daybreakers, I thought the last thing I needed to see was another vampire movie. Yet, as the end credits rolled, I was satisfied. Despite its weak third act, the effort manages to put a fresh spin on the world of the undead as it becomes an effective metaphor for our own troubled times.

The time is 2019 and a bat-bourne plague has turned 95 percent of the world’s population into vampires. The remaining five percent do their best to stay in at night as they’re hunted down and harvested for their blood. Obviously, the small number of remaining humans and the vast number of vampires ensures the blood supply will eventually run out. The Bromley Marks Corporation charges their top hematologist, Edward (Ethan Hawke), with making a synthetic blood to meet the growing need. Problem is, the scientist sympathizes with the humans and is soon sought by an underground group that hopes he’ll help them with their own cure.

The Spierig’s have great fun lampooning our society’s addiction to oil as well as the ramifications of resistance to alternatives. Equally effective is the inversion of our world, in which all normal activities take place at night, an icy-grey-hued world in which vampires go to work and down shots of blood-laden espresso to get through the night. While the directors are adept at delivering an effective social message, taking shots at our social structure and the politics of big business, they also provide blood-soaked thrills that will satisfy horror aficionados. While the film loses steam in the end with its requisite car chases and gunplay, Daybreakers proves the vampire film isn’t running on empty after all. 

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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