Pharmaceutical companies are the bad guy no matter what race rules the world.
In Daybreakers, the traditional vampire story has been turned on its head. Rather than vampires existing as a minority in a predominantly human world, they have eaten their way through the human population and stand on the brink of a grisly mass extinction if an artificial blood cannot be developed within a few weeks time.
Enter Bromley Marks Pharmaceuticals and its desperate CEO, Charles (Sam Neill), and best chance for saving vampires, scientist Edward (Ethan Hawke). The latter questions his allegiance to his own kind after a run-in with renegade humans and close encounter with what a vampire becomes when malnourished, while the former will stop at nothing and harm absolutely anyone to save his race and bottom line. The line between protagonist and antagonist is drawn in blood.
Neill, Hawke and Willem Dafoe as an outlaw “human” add gravitas to what is essentially a B-movie concept from the brothers Michael and Peter Spierig. What Daybreakers lacks in depth by relying on a series of mid-size action set pieces is compensated for with its unusual concept bolstered by several twists and turns that build towards an inevitable but cleverly masked resolution to the vampire conundrum. Reaching that point will be a fun ride for vampire fans skewing their allegiance towards HBO’s True Blood, and outright revolting and disgusting for devout followers of the Twilight phenomenon who prefer more kisses and cuddling than bites and blood.
Unlike its star vampires, Daybreakers works best in high definition when framed by intense light that renders sharp detail. Darker scenes, of which the majority is given the film’s muted color palette, are less defined and grow softer as the depth of field extends into backgrounds. The good outweighs the bad and this lightly grained transfer should be found pleasing enough by most.
Lionsgate continues their support of 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio where it makes sense and Daybreakers more than fits the mold. The sounds of bats, bullets, cars and vampire screams all bounce around the room throughout the film while bass accentuates the heavier moments of action that call upon it. The mix certainly brings a little extra intensity and urgency to the vampire’s race for survival.
Beyond the Feature
Audio Commentary – The Spierig Bros. and Steve Boyle bring their accents and insight to peel away the development process from concept to script to the finish picture. Rather than regurgitate what the film explains, these creators of the material delve much deeper into the conflict and plot where the film began into the characters that were weaved into the story.
BD Exclusive: Making of Daybreakers (2:01:38, HD) – Over two hours of making-of footage and interviews spanning from pre-production straight through to post. Naturally there is some crossover with the audio commentary. Unlike there, you can see the early process rather than just hear about it.
Also included are a pair of additional Blu-ray exclusives, BonusView Storyboards and Animatics (pip) that run through almost the entire film and The Big Picture: Spierig Bros. Short Film (13:51, HD) in which a woman sees her future through a television set; as well as a Poster Art Gallery and the Theatrical Trailer.
A clever inverted concept and play on big pharmaceutical companies, ample gore and some required guesswork make Daybreakers one of the more original and entertaining vampire films to come along in the past few years. You could do a lot worse for a blood sucking fix much easier than a lot better. With a decent video transfer, strong audio and exclusive informative extras, Daybreakers on Blu-ray is worth blocking out the sun for a few hours to enjoy in the dark.
– Dan Bradley
Shop for Daybreakers on Blu-ray at a discounted price from Amazon.com.