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Daybreakers

Year: 2009
Production Co: Lionsgate
Director: The Spierig Brothers
Writer: The Spierig Brothers
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Claudia Karvan, Michael Dorman, Jay Laga'aia, Vince Colosimo, Isabel Lucas

This is all the proof you need of the old adage about how your second film is much harder than your first. The Spierig brothers (Undead) wrote and started pre-production on this film aeons before the R-Pattz mania, mormon-style love scenes and glistening in the sunlight of Twilight, and it's taken this long to reach screens.

And you can see they've put a lot of work into the idea. It's the near future and vampirism has swept the world, humanity the minority after having sworn an uneasy truce. The twin brother writer/directors have had a great time imagining how different the world would be and so will you - from the cars with heavy tinting to keep out sunlight to the world going about its business through the night instead of the day.

They've also taken liberties with vampire mythology that work. There's one important aspect you can't talk about without spoiling the whole movie regarding their relationship to sunlight, but just as interesting is that these are sophisticated creatures who drink blood from wine glasses. It's when they're deprived of fresh blood they start to devolve into snarling, batlike monsters who'll even turn on each other.

And that's what's starting to happen. Company-man haematologist bloodsucker Edward (see what they did there?) learns that blood stocks are dangerously low, and the huge human battery farm the company keeps under wraps has always made his more sensitive side feel uneasy, even if slimy CEO Sam Neill assures him it's for the greater good.

While he's working on a blood substitute, a group of human survivalists led by Claudia Karvan and Willem Dafoe approach him with incredible stories of a vampirism cure that can save the entire race and restore the Earth.

It's refreshing to see some blood and guts on the screen again when it comes to vampires, even if the Spierigs splash it around more liberally than the story sometimes warrants. Some cheap shocks will launch you out of your seat and nobody in the cast has to try very hard but it's worth your time for the idea.

If you're observant it won't keep you from appreciating how cleverly they've spent a miniscule budget ($20m). A Hollywood production of this stature would easily have cost twice as much. But maybe the extra money a Hollywood producer would spend could have gone into script development, because that's what's needed here. The dialogue is ropey most of the way through and getting past it to connect with the story takes a big step.

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