I think that last movie I saw Ethan Hawke in that I liked was 1997’s Gattaca (I still haven’t seen Training Day yet) which is interesting because I liked Daybreakers as well. They’re both futuristic science fiction flicks, Daybreakers just happens to have vampires. See, the idea is that vampires presented themselves to humanity demanding control of society, humanity said no and became hunted. Now, sometime later, all the humans are almost dead and the government and corporations are trying to come up with a supplement, but Hawke actually discovers a cure after meeting up with humans Willem Dafoe and Claudia Carvan. As you might expect, after figuring out how to replicate the cure, Hawke tries to spread it around (he never wanted to be a vampire in the first place).
On the whole I found the movie to be incredibly enjoyable and the high caliber of actors really added to the total product. The Daybreakers world is kind of like that of Planet of the Apes where the apes didn’t necessarily invent anything, but took over from humanity. In the case of Daybreakers, they improved things to fit their specific needs which makes for some really cool “huh, I didn’t think of that moments” like when the lights go dim and all the vamp’s eyes glow red and the cars which have been outfitted with cameras and plating so as not to let any sunlight in.
It’s touches like that that take this movie out of the usual “we’ve got to stop this big corporation from ruining the world” plot. Of course, the inclusion of vampires, obviously makes the whole thing more interesting. That mixture of genres really piqued my interest. The special effects are also pretty good, through they rely on CGI blood a little more than my liking (like when a car full of vampire’s hits an object and their blood explodes out the back–it makes sense in the movie, I promise). Overall, the look of the film is very solid and serves the movie very well.
There’s two other things I want to talk about. First off, I think LionsGate really screwed up in their ad campaign which made the movie look like The Matrix with vampires. What else would you think looking at the poster to the right? For what it’s worth, this image has very little to do with the movie. I don’t think this is too SPOILERY, but that’s where vampires house their personal blood supply. See, the company is a literal blood bank. You bring a human in, he or she gets hooked up to this machine for safe keeping. As the film goes on, vamps start taking their humans out as the blood shortage gets worse. So, the basic point is that, no, it’s not like The Matrix.
The second point, and this is definitely SPOILER territory, so skip ahead if you don’t want the ending ruined. The cure that Hawke discovers through Dafoe is that exposure to sun can actually undo the effects of vampirism as long as it’s cut off soon enough. Hawke recreates the process on himself and becomes human again. While trying to figure out how to make this a widespread process, he and Dafoe also discover that if a vampire drinks the blood of someone who’s gone from vampire to human, that vampire will turn human. I’m a little torn on this idea because it can be considered an easy out. Who would subject themselves to ridiculously painful burns to become human? How do you make that process actually work in a safe way? There are a lot of problems. On the other hand, I think the whole thing is pretty interesting and I bought it while watching. It was only upon further thought that I questioned things.
I can easily recommend Daybreakers to horror fans. In fact, I can’t think of the last vampire movie I dug. It’s not a grand slam, but it’s a good way to spend an hour and a half for sure.