After all the toothless, limp-dick vampire posturing in the Twilight chick flicks, it’s a kick to see a balls-out, R-rated movie about bloodsuckersthat doesn’t spare the gore so little girls won’t cry into their Twitpics of Rob Pattinson. Such a movie is Daybreakers, a nifty genre piece from Aussie twins Michael and Peter Spierig (Undead) who put some oomph into an overworked theme. Don’t get me wrong. Daybreakers, despite the star presence of Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, is a B movie, with all the disreputable low rent, lowbrow pleasures that implies. I’ll take that over pompous any day.
As the Spierigs see the future — it’s 2019 — vampires have taken over the world. Hilariously, they’re all a bunch of tie-and-suited corporate workslaves who commute at night and appreciate Starbucks for adding a few shots of blood to their daily caffeine fix. The plot coagulates when bossman Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) puts pressure on his employees to come up with a blood substitute (what, he’s never heard of Tru Blood?). Enter the hero of the piece, a vampire named Edward (aren’t they all?). This Edward, played with style and bruised grace by Hawke, is a hematologist with such a sympathy for humans that he’s also switched to drinking animal blood. When he meets Elvis (Willem Dafoe having a blast), a vampire who has managed — I’ll never tell how — to become human again, Edward believes he’s found a cure.
But is he too late? The shortage of blood (read: oil or any metaphor you like) has resulted in mass panic. The have nots of this new society, calledsubsiders, have begun feeding on themselves and morphing into scary bat-likecreatures. The script has holes big enough to fall through, but as Bromleysniffs a glass of real human blood like the finest Shiraz — he likes the scent of fear in the nose — or Elvis hums a few bars of the King’s immortal “Burning Love” before lifting his crossbow in battle, Daybreakers brims over with fierce retro fun. Highbrows will condescend to this movie like nobody’s business. But there are a few of us left out there — junkies for smart exploitation — who will relish this stuff. You know who you are.