Horror Movies

DAYBREAKERS. A rare mix of vampiric horror and science fiction

Vampires – the only bloodsuckers worse than lawyers, fascinating and immortal beings.

Jacek Lubiński

2 December 2023

DAYBREAKERS. Rare mix of horror, vampires and science fiction

And although they are much older than cinema, just like it, they invariably attract people all over the world. So it’s no wonder that they have always appeared in movies, and there is always demand for them. I don’t want to play with numbers, but there are so many productions about distant relatives of Batman that it can probably be said that at least once a year we can watch one on the big screen.

There is no pale Pattinson and dull Kristen Stewart here; instead, there is the intriguing, though fragile, Ethan Hawke and the attractive Claudia Karvan (sometimes very similar to Lena Headey). No romance for little girls and guys jumping in the forest but there’s action for big boys and Willem Dafoe wielding a crossbow (Willem Tell?). But is that enough? Plot-wise, Daybreakers is a mix of the first two installments of the adventures of the black vampire hunter, Blade and The Matrix, with a slight taste of earlier genre films, such as John Carpenter’s Vampires (which, by the way, drew from hundreds of other titles).


In the near future (so close that it hurts – when, in one scene, the character throws some numbers, the future turns into our past!), humanity, under the influence of a mysterious disease (!), is elevated to a higher level of the food chain. Those who somehow didn’t get elongated ‘fangs’ now serve as a daily coffee additive, available at every Starbucks. Although not everyone supports this policy (some have switched to animal “vegetarianism,” others to self-hunting), what can you do – blood must go on! However, the nightly hunters have nothing to be happy about – the resources of cultivated homo sapiens are slowly shrinking, and the small resistance groups hiding in the daylight are only a magical 5% in the annual statistical office report. And although research is being conducted on a blood substitute, vampires are getting closer to extinction with each passing day. And at this point, due to a few circumstantial incidents, humans who have Elvis up their sleeve come to the rescue.

The beginning of Daybreakers pleasantly surprised me because I expected another stupid action movie under the guise of a cool story. But the Spierig brothers focused on atmosphere and slow tension building. So, we see the vampire community through their eyes – daily life, routine, pleasures, and frustrations (lots of really cool details). And it turns out that this world is not much different from the human one – they work, ride the subway, have preserved power structures and social classes, and life for them is still a stack of problems. And since it takes place only at night, all the inhabitants are immortal, their eyes glow, and a glass of fresh Rh+ is preferred over a bottle of good wine ? Big deal.

DAYBREAKERS ethan hawke

And although it’s really easy to get into this universe (a modest reflection on the current state of our civilization is truly accurate – the question is, what will WE do when the water runs out?), where there is a cool atmosphere of danger and one big unknown, paradoxically, it’s the first problem of Daybreakers. Vampires are too uniform, bland, and reduced to the ground. None of them flies, has superhuman strength, speed, and cunning, or even an aura of mystery – only plastic fangs and eye contacts. They are just bland. Moreover, everyone is afraid of something, instead of instilling fear themselves. And that something is usually another night in a world without prospects. Pussies, not vampires!

The second problem of Daybreakers is… the second half of the movie, which turns into… another stupid action movie under the guise of a cool story. Admittedly, driving events with action was clear as day, and it was done really solidly and spectacularly. But why does stupidity, infantilism, pathos, and – worse – shallowness and predictability come in so soon? Unfortunately, roughly from the moment Hawke encounters Dafoe, and the latter explains to him what’s going on in this circus, all the potential is flushed down the toilet, and with each passing minute, the plot starts swirling faster in the wrong direction.


This could have been a cool, really good, intelligent movie that would bring something new to the topic and show where vampires hibernate. Unfortunately, it turned out as usual, meaning mediocre, and the “surprising” scenes flow over us like in a gutter, unintentionally amusing and slightly irritating (especially Dafoe’s one-liners and historical wisdom that someone serves every now and then; and the ending). There is also a lack of some edge to the whole story, and we won’t experience any really decent, spectacular, memorable sequences (such could have been the ambush on the convoy of people – unfortunately, apart from excellent lighting, there is nothing noteworthy in it).

DAYBREAKERS ethan hawke Willem Dafoe

Fortunately, Daybreakers is short enough that there is hardly time for boredom. And technically, it looks really decent. The music, cinematography, effects, set design, or even creature design – everything works together and makes a positive impression. Even in terms of acting, it’s very decent, although many characters are treated as skeletons, played half-heartedly by the biggest names and without emotion by the less-known ones. It’s a shame, really a shame that the script failed, which was supposedly written for two years (which, considering the solution to the main problem, can be considered a curiosity). The Spierig brothers probably didn’t know which direction they ultimately wanted to go – although maybe they will spread their wings in some sequel, for which the gate (of course!) has been left ajar. Generally, I won’t recommend or discourage – it’s not a bad movie, but it’s also far from a successful one. Fans of Hollywood fast-food, gore, and neck-biting will surely line up. 


Jacek Lubiński

CINEMA - a powerful tool that I absorb, eat, devour, savor. Often tempting only the most favorite ones, which it is impossible to list them all, and sometimes literally everything. In the cinema, I am primarily looking for magic and "that something" that allows you to forget about yourself and the gray everyday life, and at the same time makes you sensitive to certain things that surround us. Because if there is no emotion in the cinema, there is no room for a human being - there is only a semi-finished product that is eaten together with popcorn, and then excreted just as smoothly. That is why I value most the creators who can include a piece of heart and passion in their work - those for whom making films is not an ordinary profession, but an extraordinary adventure that overcomes all barriers, discovers new lands and broadens horizons, giving free rein to imagination.

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