by the Spierig Brothers
Driving home after a day's worth of dead ends, Dalton gets into a minor scrape when he notices something in the camera system that operates as his flip-down mirror (no reflection, ya see). What he sees in his mirror is evidence that he hasn't been eating enough human blood - those who go without (called Subsiders) develop Kurt Barlow syndrome and look like the spooky wall-climbers who used to haunt the nightmares of little children. The first symptom is pointed ears which Edward's managed to develop since he doesn't believe in drinking human blood if it can be avoided - what I like to call a Sunday vegetarian. He's so busy looking at the ears that he almost plows into a car full of human beings. If he didn't offer them shelter from the approaching police they almost certainly would have killed him but he does and while waiting for Dalton to ditch the fuzz, the lead human, one Audrey Bennett sneaks a look at their saviour's personal information, things like what he does for a living and where he lives. She sneaks into his house later to tell him that a substitute ain't gonna cut it and that if he's looking for a cure she should meet him outside the city limits on Wednesday. It's there that he meets Elvis Cormac who used to be a vampire but now walks about in daylight free as a bird and he's been helping refuges with Audrey ever since. Elvis accidentally crashed his modified antique Chrysler and flew through the windshield into a pond, but not before the sun cooked him alive for a few seconds - when he resurfaced, he was human again. Dalton's gotta figure out how it works and if he can reproduce it before Bromley's security force finds him and the refuges and puts a stop to their work and the last of the human race in the process.
For all my complaints (which I think are more than justified) Daybreakers does an awful lot right. The world that the Spierigs created is a truly bizarre and really excellently designed place. The clash between dreary modernity and colorful kitsch is an interesting (if not particularly rational) choice and the Spierigs find really intriguing ways to remind us that they've thought out every aspect of their vampire's existence. The cars daylight driving function and solution mirrors, the various ways they've concocted for vampires to walk around during the day, the blood-coffee stands in the subwalk, combined with the malt-shop attendee uniforms that stand employees wear, the Frank Miller-type characters who show up in the form of corpulent detectives and hour-glass secretaries and those antique cars Elvis drives and you have one of the least conventionally designed films of the last year or so. In fact the world is so cool that the plot can't measure up to it. the subplots feel perfunctory and don’t have much to do with how the film ends and many of the film’s best elements go unused. The dialogue is largely terrible and broad and stolen from other movies; could you really imagine the situation where you'd write an argument where someone says "are we really going to have this conversation"? I was greatly looking forward to a clash between the security force and the Subsiders but twenty or so minutes before the film ends, the Subsiders completely disappear from the action; a major bummer. It feels to me that you’ve created a whole world, why not make better use of the neo-noir possibilities you’ve laid the foundation for? And though the action sequences don't make a lot of sense, they are fun enough and the same goes for the pseudo-science and all of Willem Dafoe's dialogue. The cinematography is great especially the difference between the cold interiors of Bromley Marks and the dusty winery where Dalton races to find a cure. The editing and plotting move even if subplots arise every few minutes and before long the film is racing towards its fairly satisfying ending. I enjoyed the anti-capitalist switcheroo moral and though it raises more questions than it answers I like the solution to vampirism and the scenes where they test it out. The Spierigs even manage a few quite exquisite shots, my favorite involving soldiers in the lobby of Bromley Marks.