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original title: Daybreakers
duration: 1h 38min
tags: In 2019, the most precious natural resource... is us.
keywords: pandemic, epidemic, selfexperimentation, vampire, blood, year2019, rationing, vampiresociety, plague, australiansciencefiction, australiansupernatural, australianfantasy, australianhorror, vomiting, c
His boss Charles Bromley (Sam Neil) runs a soulless corporation that pretends through Public Relations campaigns, that its search for blood substitutes is the company's major product. In fact, the production and harvest of humans grown simply to provide blood for the majority vampires that dominate the earth's population, is the real profit center of Bromley Laboratories. Its like GE pretending its profits came from appliances and household products, while secretly most of the firm's profits came from its poorly understood financial arm.
The plot details are so outlandish and sometimes comic that the ironists in the audience sometimes break out laughing. A school zone speed limit is shown in the dark, prohibiting speeds over 15 miles per hour between 2 and 3 a.m., apparently the only time vampire children are available to attend school.
There's something familiar about actor Sam Neil's makeup as the CEO of Bromley Labs. It took me awhile to nail it down. Neil's eyes are like all the vampire eyes in the film, red at the center. Neil's cheeks and jowls arouse curiosity. Finally I figure it out. A special effect in Neil's face exactly replicates the cheeks and jowls of Bela Lugosi,the actor who first played Bram Stoker's Dracula for American moviegoers.
So that's how the dice are loaded, eh!.
Bromley knows that Dalton, his leading scientist on the blood substitute project is a liberal and a reluctant vampire. The two of them argue. Bromley notices Dalton's been dieting, drinking and eating no blood at all. He is starting to resemble the starving monstrous, homeless vampires in the street, who are suffering from blood insufficiency. Every day there are attacks on 'healthy vampires' by the Homeless. The police and the army search for the vagrants and exterminate them with as little public notice as possible. But the Public is aware what is going on, that they may be next.
Nearly everyone who has become a vampire is either tempted into it, or assaulted by a vampire. Reluctant humans who refuse to become vampires, like Bromley's daughter, hide out in the badlands, just as the friends who surround Winston Smith in Orwell's 1984, do.
Dalton is involved in a chance auto accident caused by a car load of non-vampires who have sneaked into the city bearing crossbows with silver tipped arrows, that cause vampires to explode and disappear when the arrow tip merely pierces their skin. Dalton finds himself protecting the 'Humans' from police. The 'Humans' escape, but when Dalton returns home the following night - the vampires are up only at night- the fetching girl 'human' is waiting for him.
She wants him to meet another 'human.' in one of the few outside settings produced in the entire film, Dalton meets Lionel "Elvis" Cormac (Willem Dafoe), a human with a secret that is key to the planet's dilemma. The two humans want Dalton to help them find a scientific solution. The world's human blood supply has become scarce with the offing of most humans by vampires.
Both vampires and humans have a common problem. Life itself, for those alive and the Undead too, is disappearing. The 'human' woman Dalton is attracted to, hides out in an abandoned winery her parents once owned in the Napa Valley.
At the Winery, Dalton learns that Cormac had spent many years as an active vampire when a chance accident involving exposure to the sun, miraculously restored him as a human being. If Cormac's transformation can be figured out, there's a chance 'humans' can make a comeback.
Back at Bromley, the boss is onto the defection of his chief scientist. Bromley has also learned the whereabouts of his still 'human' daughter. He enlists Dalton's younger brother, who bit Dalton years earlier to save his 'life', to capture the daughter.
Dalton meanwhile discovers an enormous vacuum wine vat, from which the oxygen can be removed in seconds, to conduct experiments to find out how Cormac became human. Dalton's subject for experimentation: Himself!
Meanwhile, the Bromley forces find and capture Bromley's daughter and learn where Dalton, Cormac and the girl are holed up. In the Napa Valley the experiments begin in earnest. There's the usual mad chase to see whether the vampires or the 'humans' will be survivors.
Near the end I realize there is an enormous hole in Daybreakers. There isn't enough life in the film. There are lots of vampires and 'humans' around, but after awhile the extraordinary sets are revealed to be just the same old laboratory gray and black over and over. The movie needs badly to spend more time outside where the vampires aren't comfortable. The film mostly doesn't go there. The natural world of human beings is missing and missed in this film. Not until nearly the end does it dawn that the film is completely shot in front of special effect blue screens, using computer matte in place of real sets. It isn't just the sparseness of humans and dead-eyed vampires that casts a pall, the constant dull dark sets are deadly too. The film would be better if there were more natural landscapes.
The story is based on Orwell's 1984. Its producers fully inform the movie with the accumulated legends of 100 years of vampire film-making. The movie appears very interesting at first, but it sputters at the end. The producers should have infused the movie with a little more life contrast. Not to sound a note of complete despair. A lot of ridiculous scenes were unintentionally, horribly funny. Those laughs are the saving grace of this film. Daybreakers is more serious, from its A-list cast to its political commentary, with blood as a metaphor for oil. Like the best genre films, it has something on its mind. In 2019, vampires rule, less than 5% of the human population remains (viz. a third of a billion people), and vampires are starving. Doctor Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), vampire and hematologist, is desperately searching for a blood substitute, made particularly imperative because vampires deprived of human blood are devolving into "subsiders," bloodthirsty bat-like creatures who will feed on anything