61 Days of Halloween: Daybreakers

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment, I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Daybreakers

Daybreakers is yet another vampire movie who may have fallen victim to an overexposed genre in terms of box office. While it does have a good premise, and creates a seemingly true to life realistic future world that never seems hyper-real, it is by no means perfect. The positive is that there were at least three legitimate very good scares and shocks in this film.

What is interesting to note in the film is that directors Michael and Peter Spierig not only wrote the movie but were also lead effects artists, which allows their vision to be total in the film, and the effects work is most definitely up to snuff. It is in story that the film lacks at times. There is definitely a visual signature to this film, which possesses the rare quality of being desaturated much of the time yet still being interesting to look at. Their future work will be something to be on the lookout for.

Willem Dafoe steals the show in this film, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand he’s a great performer and it’s great to see him work, but on the other hand as soon as he enters the picture everyone else becomes less interesting even the protagonist, which of course is never good. He and his character are such large personalities that they dominate scenes he is in. Thankfully the good doctor of this tale, Ethan Hawke, does get some alone time so we can still follow him distraction free.

The second act is without question the hardest act to execute in a film. First and third acts it is often said are a piece of cake. There are struggles with pace, motivation and logic through the second act as the film nears its conclusion.

One of the central conflicts of characters is between Dr. Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) and Frankie Dalton (Michael Dorman). The former being an altruistic doctor seeking a blood substitute for the vampire world and the latter being a soldier. Towards the end Frankie informs Edward why he infected him. It is difficult to tell whether or not Frankie is lying and if he is truthful as it’s a pretty flimsy excuse that is not compelling at all.

While there is the rare effective use of slow motion the ending conflict does get a little bogged down, however, the cure that is thought of in this film is clever.

The movie avoided ending on time and decided to close with a cheesy scare attempt failing to notice that the last impression we get of the film is as important, if not more so, than the first. Conversely the first impression we get is a little odd. We get an inciting incident, a well-done dramatic little scene, featuring a character who has no bearing on the rest of the film whatsoever.

It is worth watching but is does not quite live up to the expectation that is set up during a very clever and effective first act.

7/10

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