Tens of hungry starved blood-sucking vampires descend upon a hapless Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) and tear him apart limb from limb, sucking his innards, ingesting his organs and drinking his blood as if their lives depended on it, until one of them tears his head apart and dangles it by the hair as if to keep the choicest part for later…
Ok… if you can’t stomach that sterile description of what actually happens in “Daybreakers” – then stay away from one of most engaging vampire movies that has hit our screens in a long time. I am quite amazed that the Censor Board let this through without any cuts. Maybe they had all fainted in shock and missed the tastiest parts. (Apologies for the choice of words.)
I loved it. Nor did the gory going-ons put a damper on my appetite… after all it is only cinema. And that too pretty implausible cinema set in an alternate reality where Vampires are the dominant race on earth and all that remains of humans are bands of renegades living in hiding, from being wanted for their blood. The premise of Daybreakers is pretty simple – the largest supplier of “farmed” human blood to the vampire community is searching for a synthetic “alternative” to feed the starving population as there were hardly any humans left. One of the researchers, Edward Dalton (played by Ethan Hawke), is a “pacifist” – and believes in a future where humans and vampires can peacefully co-exist…while his boss (Sam Neill) only wanted to find an alternative till the time they could “replenish” their stock of natural humans for the real stuff. The movie revolves around Dalton’s search for a cure and Sam Neill’s efforts to stop him. Bloody straightforward isn’t it?
I have always loved Vampire movies. The first one that I ever watched, and which left an indelible impression on my fermenting mind was Coppola’s Bram Stokers Dracula. Though slightly over-dramatic (to the point of being comical) if viewed now – the whole idea of this alternate race of immortal villains who are neither dead, nor alive – have superhuman strength, yet are as emotionally vulnerable as you and me… struck me as fascinating. I have to admit that there even something morbidly sexy about the whole “sucking the blood from Winona Ryder’s pale white neck…”
That classical Vampire movie look was continued in the excellent “Interview with a Vampire”. Brad and Tom never looked better, than when they had tons of talcum powder caked on their face and grape juice concentrate running down their chins. All that ended when a snarling black vampire with killer Ninja movies appeared in the form of Wesley Snipes in Blade. Suddenly Vampires were regular people around us… just on a hemoglobin diet. The same thing continued with Underworld – where the focus was on a centuries-old war between Vampires and Werewolves… humans were just roadkill. These movies depicted a modern world, but gray and dreary… like the kind Vampires would thrive in.
Daybreakers carries the same look forward and has quite an interesting plot… but that’s where it ends. It goes a bit too deep into the sociological and moral issues of a world infested with Vampires. The problem is that when you the basis of your movie is so unbelievable – you can only do yourself more harm by going really really deep into the meaning of the whole thing. And the gore. Bloody hell, they really outdid it here… with certain scenes more gory than required… maybe they were in there to attract the kind of crowd which revels on human body parts flying around.
Nevertheless – it was engaging enough for the duration it lasted – especially for a fan of the Vampire genre. There were a couple of interesting turns from veteran actors such as Sam Neill and William Dafoe, who really kicked vampire ass as the crossbow-wielding “Elvis”. Ethan Hawke, resurrecting his Gattaca persona here was sufficiently sombre. A more charismatic lead – Evan McGregor perhaps? – might have given a bit of color to the movie.
On the whole though the movie didn’t draw any new blood… it was an adequately bloody romp. Watch it if this is your sorta thing.