The year is 2019 and a plague has turned the majority of the population in the world into vampires. The few humans left on earth are hunted down for their blood. Unfortunately the blood supply is dwindling and Edward (Ethan Hawke), a vampire hematologist, is tasked with finding a blood substitute to insure survival.
The film opens with a young girl waiting outside for the sun to rise. Her house has boarded windows. She left a note behind saying she was tired of eternity trapped in the body of a child. Here, vampires don’t sparkle in the sun - they incinerate.
Edward is a researcher looking for an alternative food source for a mega corporation that, ironically, makes its money from being a human blood bank. Rows of humans are drained in this cavernous chamber suspended like cattle. There’s only a short time left before blood reserves are exhausted. Tests have shown that a starving vampire turns into a Nosferatu-looking creature that becomes a dangerous, mindless zombie. It doesn’t take long for this change to happen and more of the undead are exhibiting signs at an increasing rate. Edwards’ blood substitute is rushed to a test by the corporate head, Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), but it turns into a bloody mess.
Edward is a reluctant vampire, having been turned against his will. He refuses to drink human blood and feels sympathy for the humans that are drained at his job. When he saves some renegade humans in a car accident, they come back later because they need a vampire they can trust, especially a scientist. He’s taken to meet Elvis (Willem Dafoe) who may have the answer that will save everyone.
Imagine a world reversal with vampires in control. You have cars outfitted with overhead cameras so that you can drive in the daytime by blacking out the windows. Building windows are all covered in the day, but open at night to a city bright with lights. Everything is literally dead to the world until sunset. You even get public service announcements about what time the sun will rise so you can seek shelter in time. For some reason vampires do a lot of smoking which is odd, since they are not technically breathing. Vampires also seem to decorate their homes in very modern and glass décor. The color palette is grayish which accents the paleness of the vampires. They drink coffee with blood added. As food supplies dry up, the blood percent in their java is reduced and the result is not pretty.
Written and directed by twin brothers Michael and Peter Spierig who did 2003’s Undead, Daybreakers is a bloody anti-Twilight vampire story. The premise is unique and there are lots of interesting twists and turns that will keep you watching. Ethan Hawke’s Edward would give Rob Pattinson’s moody Twilight hero a run for his money in the angst department. Please note it’s seriously gory, so please keep the kids at home for this one. (Review by Reesa Cruz Hawkins)