Daybreakers – USA, 2009 – reviews

Daybreakers is being released by Lionsgate on 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital combo and Digital 4K Ultra HD for the first time ever September 10, 2019.

The action-packed science-fiction vampire film from the Spiergig Brothers stars Ethan Hawke (The Purge; Sinister), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse; American Psycho; Odd Thomas) and Sam Neill (Jurassic Park; Event Horizon; The Final Conflict).

The Daybreakers 4K Ultra HD combo release includes an audio commentary, multi-part making-of documentary, and the Spierig Brothers short film, The Big Picture (2000).

Our previous coverage of this recommended movie is below:

‘The battle for blood begins’

Daybreakers is a 2009 Australian-American science fiction horror film written and directed by Australian filmmakers Michael and Peter Spierig (Predestination; Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built; Jigsaw; Undead).

Daybreakers takes place in a futuristic world overrun by vampires. A vampiric corporation sets out to capture and farm the remaining humans while researching a blood substitute. Lead vampire haematologist Edward Dalton’s (Ethan Hawke) work is interrupted by human survivors led by former vampire “Elvis” (Willem Dafoe), who has a cure that can save the human species.

Plot:

In 2009, a plague caused by a vampire bat has transformed most of the world’s population into vampires. This event formed a world completely dominated by vampires. As vampires are incapable of ageing or dying, but are unprotected against the sunlight or any ultraviolet light, the entire vampire world is active at night. Human numbers quickly dwindle and the need for blood becomes desperate, while a global war rages between the surviving humans and vampires.

When deprived of blood for extended periods, vampires degenerate into “subsiders,” psychotic bat-like creatures. Humans are captured and harvested in laboratory farms while scientists research a synthetic blood substitute to satisfy vampires’ blood hunger.

In 2019, Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is the head haematologist for the pharmaceutical company Bromley Marks, the largest supplier of human blood in the United States. Along with fellow haematologist Chris Caruso (Vince Colosimo), Dalton is in the process of developing a substitute to bolster dwindling blood supplies.

The need is underscored after Dalton’s boss, company owner Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), reveals that the estimated human population is down to 5%, and national blood supplies will not last more than a month. Faced with this knowledge, Edward and Chris carry out a hasty clinical trial of the latest revision, which is a spectacularly gruesome failure.

On the drive home, Dalton becomes momentarily distracted and accidentally runs another vehicle off the road. When he checks on the occupants of the other vehicle he is shot in the arm by a crossbow shot and quickly discovers they are humans.

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

” … Daybreakers is a visual stunner and has some killer graphic gore; subsiders are chained and pulled out into the sunlight, where they ignite like campfire marshmallows. I just wanted to see more of the subsiders making a cherry pie out of your face. If you’re gonna go to all that trouble to make a screaming, angry man-bat, put it to work chowing down on neck sandwiches.” Jeff Gilbert, Drinkin’ & Drive-In

“Similar to most genre offerings, Daybreakers is set almost entirely at night (after all, vampires are sensitive to the light), so a vital aspect of producing a good transfer relies on subtle contrast gradients and abundant black level depth. Fortunately, this is one example that effortlessly rose to the challenge. Whether we’re witnessing the explosion of a staked vampire in the dead of night, or a subsider emerge from the shadows of an open doorway, I never detected a shred of weakness in black level and contrast.” Blu-ray.com

“The script has holes big enough to fall through, but as Bromleysniffs a glass of real human blood like the finest Shiraz — he likes the scent of fear in the nose — or Elvis hums a few bars of the King’s immortal “Burning Love” before lifting his crossbow in battle, Daybreakers brims over with fierce retro fun.” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“This is no Dracula or Underworld. Or even New Moon. There are no handsome men or stylish women among the undead. As with zombie movies, there is plenty of stylized gore, and an early scene offers a stomach-turning jolt. Daybreakers is entertaining, though not quite up to the standards of 28 Days Later.” Claudia Puig, USA Today

Variety gave the film a mixed to positive review stating the film had a “cold, steely blue, black and gray ‘Matrix‘-y look” going on to say Daybreakers “emerges as a competent but routine chase thriller that lacks attention-getting dialogue, unique characters or memorable setpieces that might make it a genre keeper rather than a polished time-filler.”

Main cast and characters (in credits order):

  • Harriet Minto-Day … Lisa Barrett
  • Jay Laga’aia … Senator Turner
  • Damien Garvey … Senator Westlake
  • Sahaj Dumpleton … Homeless Vampire
  • Allan Todd … Businessman
  • Gabriella Di Labio … Businesswoman
  • Ben Siemer … Police Officer
  • Peter Welman … Police Officer
  • Ethan Hawke … Edward Dalton
  • Callum McLean … Vampire School Kid
  • Jarrad Pon … Vampire School Kid
  • Victoria Williams … Vampire School Kid
  • Zoe White … Vampire School Kid
  • Aolani Roy … Vampire School Kid
  • Tiffany Lamb … News Reader
  • Renai Caruso … Coffee Shop Attendant
  • Chris Brown … Subway Commuter
  • Kirsten Cameron … Subway Commuter
  • Sam Neill … Charles Bromley
  • Carl Rush … Al Walker
  • Paul Sonkkila … General Williams
  • Vince Colosimo … Christopher Caruso
  • Todd Levi … Commissioner Turnbull
  • Wayne Smith … Inmate 4075B
  • Berni Chin … Lab Technician
  • Kevin Zwierzchaczewski … Lab Technician
  • Joel Spreadborough … Vampire Subject
  • Lisa Cunningham … Nurse
  • Amanda Buchanan … Nurse
  • Jane Wallace … Bromley’s Assistant
  • Claudia Karvan … Audrey Bennett
  • Mungo McKay … Colin Briggs
  • Emma Randall … Ellie Landon
  • Charlotte Wilson … Joy Watkins
  • Rohan Smith … Police Officer in Car
  • Michael Dorman … Frankie Dalton
  • Bryan Probets … Subsider in Kitchen
  • John Gibson … Detective Cosgrove
  • Robyn Moore … Forensic Investigator Simms
  • Troy MacKinder … Officer Hobbs
  • Willem Dafoe … Lionel ‘Elvis’ Cormac
  • Christopher Kirby … Jarvis Bayom
  • Glen Martin … Coffee Buyer
  • Isabel Lucas … Alison Bromley

Technical details:

98 minutes
Sound: DTS | SDDS | Dolby Digital
Aspect Ratio: 2.35: 1

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Release:

Daybreakers was released in the UK on 6 January 2010 and in North America on 8 January 2010. The film grossed over $50 million and received positive critical reception.

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