You know those vampire flicks where there’s a blonde cheerleader or a Black hybrid creature who fights tirelessly to destroy vampires and keep the human population safe from harm at the fangs of these creatures of the night? Or the ones where vampires live in large covens all over the world for centuries with minimal detection, surrounded by clueless humans? This is not one of those movies.
In Daybreakers, we are thrown into a dystopian future where nearly everyone on Earth is now a vampire, and the world is set up for their convenience. All cars are sold with and all buildings contain UV-shield windows, work and school days begin at sundown, and the corporations of the world are now run by and for elite vampires. The few humans left are either on the run, hiding from hunters in small communities, or have already been rounded up and are being farmed for blood.
Because of the scarcity of humans and the fact that most vampires refuse to survive on animal blood, vampire hematologist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) works tirelessly to synthesize a human blood substitute. Edward, who was turned by his younger brother, prominent human hunter, Frankie (Michael Dorman), is in a fairly large minority of people who never wanted to become vampires in the first place. This only inspires him to work harder, as he is morally opposed to the farming of humans and naively believes that a marketable blood substitute will ensure their safety.
After a chance encounter with some members of the human resistance, and then an altercation with Frankie over the morality of drinking human blood, Edward makes a discovery which not only drastically affects his relationship with his boss, Charles Bromley (Sam Niell), but could also destroy the fabric of vampire society and liberate the humans forever.
Though slow in some areas, Daybreakers is such a refreshing member of the vampire film genre, despite not making much in box offices (I call this the Ethan Hawke curse; great movies, little appreciation). The movie not only accurately draws parallels to how modern day insurance and pharmaceutical companies exploit people in need, and capitalizes off of sickness, but inadvertently brings into question the morality of eating living creatures (in this case, humans) if there are other, less cruel ways to survive. There is also a lot of understated, but brilliantly-done, work to ensure that, although the audience never forgets how strong and dangerous vampires are, that the film remains a drama and social commentary, rather than a horror.
I give this one 4.25 stars.