After the marvellous 2003 Australian zombie/science-fiction film Undead, the Queensland filmmaking brothers Michael and Peter Spierig have now written and directed the Australian/USA co-production Daybreakers. Set in 2019, Daybreakers presents a future where the vampires have won and now populate the Earth. As the blood supply begins to run dry, the human-friendly vampire researcher Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), who is searching for a blood substitute, falls in with a gang of renegade humans.
The techno-gothic world of Daybreakers merges classic vampire mythology with advanced technology and corporate culture in a way not too dissimilar to the Blade films and the Angel television series. Daybreakers is nevertheless highly inventive, containing plenty of interesting and original ideas about vampire technology, vampire physiology and the sociological implications of a vampire world.
Unfortunately weak dialogue and plotting drag the film down and not even the strong cast, which includes Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill and Claudia Karvan, are able to compensate. Attempts at humour fall flat and the over-reliance on CGIs makes the futuristic city setting look artificial. For all its conceptual greatness Daybreakers is ultimately a B-grade film that never quite lives up to its potential.
Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 347, 2010
© Thomas Caldwell, 2010