Daybreakers Review

Published 5 years ago by

Short version: Despite a very interesting premise, Daybreakers fails to rise above its average script and mediocre action sequences.

daybreakers trailer 2 Daybreakers Review

Screen Rant’s Rob Frappier reviews Daybreakers

We’ve seen goth vampires stalk the night dressed in S&M-inspired leather (Blade). We’ve seen Victorian vampires roam cobblestone streets in corsets and capes (Bram Stoker’s Dracula). We’ve even seen sparkling teenage vampires brood through the halls of their high school (thanks a ton, Twilight). To my knowledge, though, we’ve never seen a movie where society is completely controlled by vampires, and therein lies the best part of Daybreakers, the new film from the sibling writer-director team of Peter and Michael Spierig.

Daybreakers takes place in 2019, ten years after some kind of outbreak has turned the majority of the world’s population into vampires (the movie is vague in explaining exactly how this outbreak occurred). In an excellent opening montage, the film shows the result of the vampire takeover: A world pretty much the same as when humans ran things. Vampire politicians bicker on cable TV, vampire businessmen ride the subway to and from work, and homeless vampires beg for spare, um, blood.

Okay, so it’s not entirely the same. Still, just like us, the vampires do have problems. For one thing, the declining human population has forced the vampires into a crippling blood shortage (a thinly disguised allusion to our mismanagement of natural resources and our dependence on fossil fuels.)

If that doesn’t sound bad, it’s because you don’t know what happens when vampires don’t get their blood. Trust me, it ain’t pretty. As shown in the picture below, when a vampire goes too long without blood, they turn into giant bat-like creatures called “subsiders.” Subsiders have incredible strength, little to no brain function, and, most importantly, they don’t mind eating other vampires.

daybreakers vampire photo Daybreakers Review

Because of the increasing subsider problem, the vampire world is relying on industrialist Charles Bromley (played with sinister corporate cunning by Sam Neill) and his chief hematologist Edward (played by Ethan Hawke) to develop some kind of blood alternative. Edward, who has never been cool with the whole being a vampire thing, hopes that the blood alternative will help stop vampires from hunting and farming humans. Unfortunately for him (and even more unfortunate for the humans), Bromley’s plan involves keeping the blood alternative for mainstream use but continuing to sell human blood to the upper class.

Given this conflict of interest, it’s no surprise that Edward joins up with a small band of human resistance fighters (whose ranks include Willem Dafoe), to develop a possible miracle cure for vampirism. From here, the film devolves into a series of average action sequences as Edward tries to figure out the cure before the army tracks him and his human friends down. I don’t want to share any spoilers in this review, but I have a feeling that you’ll be able to guess what happens from the time Edward joins with the humans to the film’s inevitable conclusion. Horror fans will be pleased to know that there is a healthy dose of gore throughout the film, but, for me, the constant barrage of blown up/burned/devoured bodies was a bit of overkill, especially at the end.

In speaking with fellow Screen Rant scribe Ross Miller about the film, we both came to the conclusion that Daybreakers didn’t do enough to live up to its ambitious premise. Despite a few humorous lines, the movie took itself way too seriously to be enjoyed as either a dark satire of corporate greed or a campy splatterfest. Conversely, the characters weren’t developed well enough and the plot was too predictable to work as a moody sci-fi/action/horror thriller. In essence, the movie was a run-of-the-mill piece of genre fare, albeit one with a remarkably original idea.

Despite my disappointment with Daybreakers, however, I firmly believe that the Spierig brothers have a lot of potential to become successful Hollywood directors. While the story fell flat, the work that the directors put into making a world run by vampires seem real is worth noting. Additionally, while the action scenes didn’t generate much excitement (and they were few and far between) they did look good. Considering the film’s minuscule budget (a measly $21 million), this is another achievement worth mentioning.

All things considered, is Daybreakers a bad movie? No. Was it anything other than average? Unfortunately, no. Have you ever gone into a movie with high expectations because of a really great trailer? That’s what happened to me with Daybreakers. The vampire genre has been so played-out lately, that I thought Daybreakers would provide a refreshing twist on a story that has become stale. Unfortunately, the tease of the trailer was never fully realized. I wanted to find out what would happen in a world run by vampires, and, in a way, I did. However, for me, seeing how vampires ran their society was more interesting than watching Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe trade pithy one-liners as they “raced for a cure.”

Ultimately, I would recommend checking out Daybreakers if you’re a vampire movie buff or a big fan of gore. At the very least, you’ll be getting a unique take on a genre that’s been done to death. I’m hoping that the potential demonstrated by the Spierig brothers in this film will translate into something even better for their next outing.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5

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  1. I was so excited to see this movie because of the premise that vampires run the world and humans are the ones ‘hiding’. I was sooo disappointed! Apart from the corny one-liners and the random blood shed that in most parts just looked like a video game the movie completely wasted the storyline. Ethan Hawke was more like a real vampire kinda just walking through the movie like he was dead, the girl had little if any real point in the story I don’t even remember her name and i saw it like 6 hours ago. The theater i went to people were actually laughing at the ‘scary’ parts and when we walked out people were complaining and a couple tried to get a refund lol…?? It feels like they wanted to cash in on vampires and had a really good idea but didn’t necessarily wait til they had all the kinks out :( wish they would have waited and thought about it more before releasing it …waste of $10 should have just waited for the $1 rental…thats my opinion though if you see it and like it good for you!

  2. I just saw the movie, it was pretty retarded, but was kind of entertaining at the same time just because of how outrageous some of it was… I don’t know, I think it was kind of worth watching, but they tried the bat shrieking jump scare thing like a million times, it was annoying… And didn’t make me jump once, lol.

  3. Well for the Spierig twins, this film is probably a HUGE step up from their debut film UNDEAD, which I loved by the way. This is their first “Big Hollywood Film”, so I give em’ a pass on this one if it sucks. I’m going to see it this weekend, so I will reserve judgement. I’m also willing to bet they didnt have as much creative license as they wanted on this film. Thats the reason Blomkamp is avoiding Hollywood like the plague when they are trying to throw big budget films at him.

  4. It seems like a fair bit of the criticisms against the film are what people think the film SHOULD HAVE BEEN while still admitting the film is different in a not altogether bad way. That’s not really an evaluation of the film at that point because it doesn’t really say what the film IS, but how it doesn’t meet one’s expectations for what “different” should look like. Is that the movie-going experience nowadays? To not watch something as-is?

  5. I enjoyed the movie, but tried to enjoy it much more than I did. The story, in my opinion, was still able to come through. While I was watching it certain scenes seemed incomplete, like they were about to have a good scene, and then pull back for some reason. I’m unsure as to whether the Spierig Bros did this on intentionally, a result of editing, or outside intervention.

  6. I agree the writer, Rob Frappier, about it being interesting seeing a daily vampire society, but in the end made me feel sorry for them. It was like normal, boring, trivial human life, but lasts a LOT longer! If they don’t get older, how the hell do they know when to retire or cash out their 401(k)…LOL

  7. The vampire theme was played out years ago, then made worse by Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. Pewww!

    Enter Twilight…….ahem, I wont go further on that. And as horrible as that was, it made Hollywood execs go “OMGawd they cant get enough of it!”

    Near Dark for the win!
    (and the only other vamp movie worth considering for those who want a good one, is Thirst)

  8. The slow motion killing orgies was downright hilarious… which is not good because it wasn’t meant to be hilarious, but my friends and I were literally laughing out loud as if we were watching Tropic Thunder…

  9. the first trailer made me want to see it nd it lived up to my expectations

  10. I saw this movie the other day and totally loved it. The concept of a society (not underground or hidden from society) of vampires where they exist almost the same as we live now is something that I don't believe has ever been touched before. I personally thought this movie deserved 4.5/5 or 5/5 but to each his own. I thought some of the action scenes were just brilliant (especially the ending scene which I won't spoil, but if you saw it you must know what I am talking about).

    William DaFoe and Ethan Hawkes acting was of course great and Sam Neill… Always a great bad guy (ex. Event Horizon).

  11. Blah blah blah……Don't waste the money, watch True Blood on HBO………

  12. Rent this one. Started out good but turned into a gorefest. What a waste!
    3 out of 5 at the most.

  13. Watched half of it and got tired of watching vampires sucking on cigarettes and smoking cigars. How much money did these industries pump into the production of this film?

  14. This movie was such a disappointment. The trailers gave me hope that Hollywood and maybe the world was moving on from the whole “lets remake movies that have already been done phase”. So as my hopes were raised I sat in the theater very disappointed that there was lack of a plot and just blood and gore. And was pissed off at the ending of the movie who just ends it like that. I will say this about the movie the effects and the makeup were great. we just need more of a story line here people.

  15. great movie i watched it and like it i will give it 9/10 …
    before few days there was no good quality on internet but 4 days ago someone added good quality …. i watched it on

  16. I saw this movie tonight and was not so impressed. I thought it was to full of blood and gore. I am an old mom so maybe that is why I felt that way. I thought the references to Twilight were sad. The main character is named Edward. The main lady in the movie has blood with an irresistable scent. Hmmph.

  17. I got to see this openiong weekend in the US and like many have already said, while I found it enjoyable I also found it to be different then how it was marketed.

    What I found rather interesting is the potential this movie has in the realm of TV. Currently there is a Vampire fascination in entertainment with sveral popular vampire themed shows and I believe Daybreakers offers a chance to take the Vampire story line in a very different way. I believe because of its low budget ( how many movie do we see now with an under $50-$75 milion budget that is hyped or as anticipated as was Daybreakers) its a primie candiate for at least a TV mini-series like Battlestar Galacteca or even an on going show.

    The premise for the TV show could go one of several ways, it could either start off at the point in time when the plague firts hit, letting season one be a combination of the first years after the plague with flashbacks (like are done in LOST) of pre-plague and during the plague events from various characters perspectives, or it could pick up where the movie left off.

    Without giving away any spoilers, I know the movie provides an implied outcome but because its not actually shown it would be easy to do a complete turn-about with the outcome and show that what the 'goodguys' in the movie did in the end was then undone or stopped by someone else.

    The point is there are a lot of possabilities with the whole Daybreakers premise and that combined with its relatively low budget make it a very viable candiate for a great TV show (if done right) .

    Anyone know how one goes about pitching TVB show ideas?

    • there were already plenty of pointless plot turn arounds in the ending where it goes back and forth, then they ride of into the sun set in a good product placement scene…. I think an other plot turn around would be a sad excuse for a sequal.

      The whole movie was great, super orriginal plot great ideas, cool premis and everything but then you get to the end and it just gets stupid. Instead of being nice and telling the boss that he has the cure and turning those rats into humans for blood, he causes trouble and it brings the story to a frisby session between vampire and human and then they ride off into the sunset in their car to collect the car companies product placement money. this killed the film for me, its a shame because it was going somewhere good

  18. Lovely movie.

  19. Lovely movie.

  20. i liked the whole structure and the whole style of the movie,but i didnt like the ending,i bet many people wont like the ending,it just ends without anything significant happening,i give this movie 3 out of 5

  21. Surprisingly i must admit that i enjoyed this film, it re-established what ‘movie vampires’ seem to have lost (through films such as ‘Twilight’ e.t.c), although it was a bit predictable in places it provided a fresh take on vampires, film-wise. Regrettably i was extremly dissapointed by the final, breif closing scene as it became a bit repetitive.
    All in all i would give it 4/5 – worth watching.

  22. I disliked the prog to begin with too much like BBC breakfast I occasionally switched it on to warm to it, now I like it just in the background however I switched it on today and hooray Kate garraway and the new sport presenter a brilliant screen relationship I just associate chiles with a sport presenter and the Irish one is ok sorry bring back gmtv or stick to your presenters you had today!!!

  23. Wanted to see this one, started, but the sound editing was the worst, turn it up for conversation, turn it down for everything else. Shortly – turned it off.

  24. The worst thing about this movie for me was the disapointing ending..
    All the way through I felt like it was building up to something, some ultimate moment but this moment never happened. and the ending was so cliched to make it worse. I was so unsatisfied I felt like I wanted to keep watching to see was what would happen next.. but I couldnt keep watching because the movie was over!