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Laramie Movie Scope:

A sort of reverse vampire movie

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 10, 2010 -- “Daybreakers” is kind of like a reverse vampire movie. In most vampire movies, there are relatively few vampires and they hide among the humans. In this film, most of the people in the world have become vampires and there are very few humans left, hiding from the vampires. The challenge to the vampires, who are now running the civilized world, is to find more blood, since their blood supply is running out. The challenge to the humans is to somehow survive this plague of vampires.

One of the vampires heading up the development of a blood substitute is Edward Dalton (played by Ethan Hawke of “Before the Devil Knows You're Dead”). Edward is a hematologist who doesn't like being a vampire. He refuses to take human blood, relying on animal blood instead. He was turned into a vampire by his younger brother, Frankie (Michael Dorman), who likes being a vampire. One day Edward runs into a car load of humans on the run and helps them. He is then contacted by the human underground and discovers something thought impossible. There is a way to turn vampires back into humans.

The problem is that many vampires don't want to become human, and if they do become human they will simply be turned back into vampires, or will become a new blood supply for vampires. What to do? That's not considered enough plot complexity, so the screenwriters add more, a dubious decision. As vampires starve, they start devolving into stronger, more aggressive, more primitive bat-like creatures, who threaten other vampires. There is also a sub-plot involving the daughter of Edward's boss, Charles Bromley (Sam Neill of “The Dish”). Bromley's daughter, Alison (Isabel Lucas of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”) doesn't want to become a vampire and runs away from home. This is a sub-plot that in better hands might have had some potential, but it doesn't really go anywhere. Another awkward subplot involves Edward's relationship with his brother, Frankie.

What really saves the movie is Elvis, in the form of unconventional character actor Willem Dafoe. Dafoe of the “Spider-Man” movies, plays former vampire Lionel 'Elvis' Cormac, who holds the key to reversing vampirism. Dafoe is the only person in this movie who really seems to be having any fun. Dafoe swaggers along in the same fashion that Woody Harrelson did in “Zombieland.” Unfortunately, this film is not nearly as good as Zombieland was, and it also lacks Bill Murray. The ending of the film is even more chaotic than the rest of it. The film takes great pains to avoid what could have been a more satisfying, cleaner ending by making it more complex than it really needs to be. I'll give this a marginal thumbs up since it is more imaginative than most vampire films and because of Willem Dafoe's performance, but it should have been better. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2010 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)