Daybreakers – Australia-USA, 2009

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

The film 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 hematologist 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.

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

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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 aging 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.

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In 2019, Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is the head hematologist for the pharmaceutical company Bromley Marks, the largest supplier of human blood in the United States. Along with fellow hematologist 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.

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.”

Rolling Stone gave the film two and a half out of four stars and called the film a B movie and a “nifty genre piece”. Roger Ebert also gave the film two and a half stars stating the “intriguing premise … ends as so many movies do these days, with fierce fights and bloodshed.” 

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“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

” … 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

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