Daybreakers


Directed by: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Written by:Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Isabel Lucas, Sam Neill, Claudia Karvan, Jay Laga’aia
Released: February 4, 2010
Grade: B+

About 18 months ago, I was driving home from an evening film screening and saw the area outside Riparian Plaza (in the Brisbane CBD) closed off to traffic.  I stopped to have a gawk and it turned out they were filming a movie.  How exciting!  Crew members were covering up advertising signs and others were simply hosing the street.  Exactly what movie were they filming?

The answer was Daybreakers, a new vampire movie starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Claudia Karvan.  I’ve been following its progress on the internet since that date and after a long wait, it’s finally being released in cinemas.  I’m describing it as an ideal movie… for those who didn’t like Twilight.  There’s no lovey-dovey romance here.  It puts the “bite” back in vampire flicks!

It’s set in the not to distant future where the world has been overrun by vampires.  They’ve stuck their fangs into every almost every human.  Unfortunately, this has created a rather obvious problem.  If the blood is sucked from every human, that’ll be the end of the vampires’ food source.  Without food, well, you get the picture…

Charles Bromley (Neill) runs the major blood bank and is fully aware of this issue.  One of his leading scientists, Edward (Hawke), has been creating a blood substitute to satisfy the masses and save the vampire population.  Unfortunately, it’s still in the testing phase and time is running out.  The public are starting to panic.

I should make mention that Edward is not your normal, blood thirsty vampire.  He has sympathy for the humans and so quenches his own thirst with blood from animals.  Following a freak car accident, he meets one of the world’s last remaining humans – a woman named Audrey (Karvan).  She takes him to a secret hideout and there, Edward meets Elvis (Dafoe) – another human who was once a vampire.  How did he transform back?  Is there still hope for the human race?

Back in 2003, Michael and Peter Spierig made a low-budget horror flick called Undead.  It didn’t make much money but it attracted the attention of some Hollywood heavyweights.  When they put forward a 16 page treatment for a new vampire movie, Lionsgate jumped on board.  This is big stuff for the Spierig brothers.  We often struggle to get our local product released abroad but Daybreakers is set to be shown in quite a few countries.

It won’t mean much to those unfamiliar with Brisbane, but it’s great to see some of our city sights on the big screen.  There’s Riparian Plaza, Post Office Square and the underground walkways leading to Central station (which look creepy enough in a non-vampire world).  It’s also fun seeing Adelaide Street deserted during the day (because, of course, the vampires don’t come out at night).

The film itself is definitely worth seeing.  It’s an interesting world that the Spierig brothers have created.  I liked some of the nice touches – from the coffee shop on the train platform (which includes blood with the coffee) to the blood bank (which allows people to store humans for later consumption).  The vampire cars are pretty cool too with their UV light protection.

People have been critical of Australian cinema in recent months.  Their concerns are that many of our films are “not commercial.”  Hopefully this one will prove them wrong.