It isn’t Twilight. Nor Trueblood. Nor Buffy the Vampire Slayer nor, good grief, LeStat. It’s kind of it’s own thing.
The movie “Daybreakers” is equal parts “Equilibrium,” “Children of Men,” “Repo” and something completely different with vampires. It’s well-written enough that it might become an instant classic.
In the future, almost everyone is a vampire. The cities look like a noir film of Metropolis as pale, sullen vamp-people go about their nightly lives. They mix blood into their coffee and store it in wine bottles, like very classy bloodsuckers. All the humans they capture are kept in something like the Matrix and farmed for their blood. The catch? There isn’t enough blood because there aren’t enough humans. The vampires that don’t drink enough blood are turning feral, becoming ugly Gollum/bat hybrids that would make Nosferatu look well-to-do. Softie scientist Edward (ironic snicker) Dalton is trying to engineer a blood substitute, but he still has to work out a few kinks. His last test subject exploded.
But– wait for it– there is a resistance movement of humans. They carry crossbows and are a bit jumpy, but don’t want to kill all the living dead just yet. Instead they think they know how to turn them human again.
Throughout all the commercials, I was convinced it would be a pretty hack-and-slashy action-junkie film. That’s how they marketed it. But it was still extremely well-done. Vampires have long been seen as symbols, sometimes of elitism and sometimes of primal urges. This did justice to the former, more Dracula than Blade Trillogy. Life hidden from the sun looks almost feasible, with very-tinted car windows, underground hallways and almost no wood anywhere– too much of a danger to use as a stake.
The action scenes are still worth remembering. It had more red maple syrup than the average dystopia flick, and yes, more shattering glass and vamps that spontaneously combusted when shot. It had an evil CEO, occasional car chases, and the obligatory car-plowing-into-glass-building. But not every stereotype was seized: no frantic main-character sex scene wormed its way in. And there was no Catholic-esque conspiracy group or grim atempts of bloody religious symbolism. Not even an attempt at a tagline working in the movie title. While the word “realistic” is hard to apply to vampire/action movies, “Daybreakers” nearly was.
And though much of the footage itself was black-and-white, the storyline wasn’t. It reminded us all that the undead were people too.