I’m Nick. I’ve watched more movies than most inmates have smoked cigarettes. I love them but I also tend to rewatch them weird. To appreciate the little things or learn through osmosis how the sausage is made. In an attempt to help you through your day and to possibly remind of you of movies you need to see or see again, witness my Weird Watching column. If you like it, share the article and like it and tweet it and all that bullshit. Or discuss it here. My first installment was A History of Violence.
The Film: Daybreakers (buy it from us in one of many formats)
The People: The Sperig Brothers. Ethan Hawke. Willem Dafoe. Sam Neill. Isabel Lucas.
The Premise: Vampires rule. Humans are nothing but a food source. As the blood supply dwindles a conscientious Hematologist (Hawke) joins a group of rogue humans in finding a cure for vampirism.
Warning: Spoilers and Dumb Commentary From Here Forward
0:00 – Lionsgate’s logo is better than many Lionsgate movies. All those gears and light, so pretty. Unlike say Godsend. Or The First 9 1/2 Weeks. Or every Tyler Perry abomination.
2:15 – A little girl vampire takes herself out of the mix. Is kid death going to be a recurring part of this column? I sort of hope so because the only places children should get wiped out is in movies. That said, if they reach adulthood and are dogshit, all bets are off. What I’m trying to say is that this column is 2 for 2 in kids getting killed in the first few minutes. This girl’s a vampire so she’s already died but she died as a kid and then was reborn and now she’s dying again. Probably for the last time because the sun really fucks her afternoon in the mouth.
9:15 – Such great world building here. The Sperig Brothers and their background in special effects offer so much added value it’s not even funny. The world of the vampires is truly astounding with its special “subwalks” and custom cars and little bells and whistles geared towards showcasing how the new elite live.
13:30 – Great scene. Great tension. Terrific work by Ethan Hawke and his Goran Visnjic wannabe friend and their cute little experiment on a vampire soldier. Great bombastic score. Great comedic timing. And fabulous gore. I’m a sucker for full body explosions (you’d know if you follow my webcam), but there’s a very 80’s horror joy to the cutting and payoff of the scene.
15:37 – The cars in this movie should become iconic like the ones in Bullitt or Back to the Future. Or at least as much as the 6000-SUX. Very neat stuff and some of Chrysler’s best work.
16:00 – I love the tech! If vampires did take over this is how it’d be. I’d love to drive a car by camera with all sorts of neat little gizmos. Little vampire cameras on the vampire hood and vampire screens protecting little vampire faces. The lack of windshields make the cars look even cooler.
19:00 – How is this not considered a cornerstone genre film? The Sperigs are better than many of the “name” young talents in horror right now. Worlds better.
19:30 – Vampire watering his flowers alert!
19:50 – Frankie is miscast as hell. The dude playing a major character in Hawke’s brother and vampire enforcer needs to have a presence and deliver his lines with gusto. This guy’s not only a lightweight compared to Hawke, he doesn’t have any sort of memorable physicality. God he’s wrong.
20:44 – “Life’s a bitch and then you don’t die.” A great little vampire bon mot.
20:51 – Did Ethan Hawke’s contract stipulate that he lights and smokes a cigarette in every scene? If so, Ethan Hawke cannot appear in any rated PG movies ever again. The fact Ethan Hawke is still alive should really make the folks at the FDA reconsider what the real threats to health are.
22:15 – WALL LICKING!
22:30 – This little confrontation with the “Subsider” is delightful. Great practical effects. Headlessness. Pummeling. It’s sort of a lame little creature but a blast regardless. It’s a sad little monster actually. I’d pity it if it didn’t look like Richard Crenna after a toxic bath.
25:15 – Fatty gumshoe vampire deserves his own, shitty movie. He’s acting in a different movie than Ethan Hawke is. I’d like to see Fatty Vampire Gumshoe. Guy gets contracted for jobs and ends up sucking everyone off instead. Which is exactly the plot for Axel Braun’s inevitable porn parody.
28:57 – Sam Neill looks the same as he did ten or fifteen years ago. Lack of work has a smoothing effect. He and Willem Dafoe reunited for the solid recent flick The Hunter.
31:52 – Dafoe! This guy was so ugly in Off Limits and so wiry. He was so weird in To Live and Die in LA. He was a grotesque Bobby Peru in Wild at Heart. Somewhere along the way he became vital to our lives. In Wes Anderson’s films alone he’s become a national treasure. It takes a special talent to be a muse for Wes Anderson AND Lars Von Goddamn Trier.
32:50 – Great little jump scare. Dude crept his ass up on her.
33:24 – You thought you’d go your whole life without Martin Scorsese’s choice for Jesus doing a little Elvis singing. Well, life just handed you a Jolly Rancher ’cause Willem Dafoe is singing Elvis tunes.
35:24 – Solid chase scene. Hummers versus Vampmobile! Crisply edited, pounding music. Stuff you don’t normally see in a vampire movie, and during DAYLIGHT thanks to the movie’s terrific vehicles.
36:48 – A Humvee dies a Yeoman’s death. I’m pretty sure whomever was in that whip is no longer a citizen.
38:11 – What a great location. Is that an aqueduct or bomb shelter or Jack in the Box location or something? It’s phenomenal. The Sperig Brothers did a great little flick called Undead and as former special effects persons they have a keen eye for that side of the business, but an unsung aspect is their ability to take conceptual images and make them real. You look at the “Art Of” books for some movies are are like “I want to see THAT fucking movie” because somewhere between the art process and filming and post the reality came down hard on the dream. Not with these guys.
39:27 – I love this flashback. FLYING WILLEM!
46:29 – Racism against other vampires is still racism. Now I want to go buy a Eracism shirt.
48:01 -“Just put some more fucking blood in my coffee!” I liked that line better in On Golden Pond but it still works here.
53:59 – Another good action sequence. Hampered only by miscast brother character! Damn, this guy would have been such a good character if someone like Ben Foster was playing him. Not that I want Ben Foster playing him. Ben Foster’s great but his quirky stunt casting days need to go away for a while. That said, a surrogate Ben Foster would have worked famously here.
1:06:29 – Rushed effects. The underground shots of the “Subsiders” moving around and clashing are the hokiest part of this movie.
1:07:00 – Willem Dafoe creeping around a house about to sneak in- in a movie, amazing. Willem Dafoe creeping around your house about to sneak in- in real life, terrifying.
1:08:00 – A little social commentary. The Subsiders are a dirtier, lesser species so they’re executed in the streets in chains. Chilling. Reminds me of how our own society can be when faced with a difficult choice. Remember Pogs?
1:09:54 – I’m not entirely convinced Sam Neill’s daughter enjoyed sunbathing.
1:11:32 – “We’re the ones with the crossbows.” – Willem Dafoe’s new catchphrase. Someone needs to phantom edit it into The Last Temptation of Christ.
1:13:23 – A great little throwaway moment where Dafoe and Hawke muse on the quality of Goran Visnjic wannabe’s apartment. Hawke’s expression is a delight.
1:15:19 – The brothers reunite and disappointing actor tries to exist in a scene with Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, guys who have been doing it well for decades. Shit, I’m beginning to long for Christopher Mintz-Plasse at this point. No I’m not. I’m never longing for him.
1:17:00 – FUCK. They asked “please” and the vampire relented and then bullshitted. You can’t betray a “please”!
1:17:46 – You know Ethan is serious because he’s slicked his hair back.
1:19:29 – Sam Neill sitting on a luxurious couch while a woman bleeds nearby. CLASSIC Sam Neill. Gets me every time.
1:19:36 – Everyone in the theater knows Ethan is laying down a little secret track to derail Sam Neill but it’s still great.
1:20:40 – Sam Neill is a dickhead vampire. What a total ass prick. He’s so good at being a douche. Tangent: I worked at a movie theater from 1989-90 and the semi-retarded projectionist was doing the signs on Thursdays before the new releases came out. Imagine my zeal when I pulled up Friday morning to see Sam Neill’s great Billy Zane opus 45 feet in the air being sold as Dead Clam. If that were today it’d be a fucking meme. As it stands it’s just an indelible memory for little ole me.
1:23:00 – “Welcome back to humanity. Now you get to die.” – Ethan feeling around the ground near him for his own catchphrase.
1:25:00 – NOW THIS IS HAPPENING!
1:26:27 – A little Day of the Dead reference? I wouldn’t be surprised. Lots of wetness.
1:27:36 – Great moment where tons of vampires are SAVED! They turned human! And are instantly eaten to death! And then the process repeats. So good. I love the maniac Sperig Bros!
1:29:00 – This must have been a sticky set to be on.
1:30:00 – Goran! We forgot about you being in the movie. Oh, well you’re not in the movie anymore.
1:32:00 – Tying up loose ends and a little voiceover to send audiences on their way. Funnily enough there’s potential for a sequel here. Such a tight little joy. Just because they’ve found a way to cure the vampire nightmare, imagine if a NEW strain of asshole vampire showed up. I’d pay to see it. Fun flick.
Daybreakers is a winner and a vampire movie that sticks out in an overcrowded and frankly boring genre. Production value is super high, the performers aside from horrid brother are terrific and the actors are actually invested. If you haven’t seen it, you must. It’s one I mix into the rotation every couple of years and one that hopefully will endure. The bottom line is that the Sperigs are major talents who need to be given opportunities to in bulk.