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October 5, 2009


The logical progression of vampire movies


I went to see The Informant! over the weekend (pretty good, though it got really repetitive by the end, but I liked the hyper-unreliable narrator and his inner monologue voiceovers about polar bears and the German word for "pen") and one of the trailers was for Daybreakers, an Australian vampire movie that's coming out in January.

Yeah, another vampire movie. It looks cool, and like it owes a lot to the Blade movies. First: the title. If you've seen Blade, you probably remember that Blade is a "daywalker" because he's half vampire/half human, and can walk around in the sunlight without igniting or exploding. This new movie also seems to use a similar retro-tech weapons style, where the vampire hunters use crossbows and swords. Also, remember in Blade II how there were evil vampires that introduced a new strain of super-bloodlusty vampirism that was going to wipe out the good vampires and humans alike?

Daybreakers is also about good vampires and bad vampires. They've run into the problem that we all knew would eventually come when the vampires start taking over the world: they're running out of humans. You go around turning everybody into vampires, pretty soon there's no one left to provide for your daily blood-sucking needs. It's sort of like a climate change/pollution of natural resources/foreign oil allegory for the undead. When vampires are deprived of blood, you can bet what happens is really scary and gross.

Anyway, there's Ethan Hawke playing a researcher (a vampire researcher, of course, because everybody's a vampire) trying to find a synthetic alternative to human blood (like in True Blood) to save humans from extinction. Since humans are already being used as blood-producing animals, we get a Matrix-like shots of hundreds of humans in suspended animation hooked up to a network of blood-harvesting machines. Ethan Hawke seems to advocate for humans in a way that reminds me of his character in Gattaca--a guy in a highly regulated and sort of creepily exploitative corporation of the future who quietly subverts it from the inside. He's also a thoughtful, ethical vampire who only drinks pig's blood, like the guy in Twilight.

There's Willem Dafoe as a mysterious renegade ex-vampire named, for some reason, Elvis, who has cured himself of his need for blood, but he's still gleefully vampy, like a warrior reincarnation of his Max Schreck in Shadow of the Vampire. And because it's an Australian movie, we've got to have Sam Neill (love him!) as the head of the blood-harvesting corporation that wants to squeeze as much money as possible out of their scarce product while they can.

Could be some good stuff in this one: an all-vampire society, dwindling resources, the rich getting the best of everything while the poor scramble to subsist on cheap substitutes, greedy vampires, and the breakdown of social order. One review from a screening at Toronto says it's "fast, loud, atmospheric, funny, and at times very scary. The gore is plentiful, as are the explosions."

Here's the trailer, which uses the Placebo cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill".

categories: Movies
posted by amy at 12:52 PM | #

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