Daybreakers : An Ok Oh Movie Review

I can clearly recall my first brush with religion. I remember getting into the station wagon, the whole family minus the oldest brother, and heading out to a church near Bridal Trails. I remember the explicit nature of the fact that my parents were "church hunting." I remember going down some stairs to the basement Sunday School room partitioned by nude-colored fold-out hard partitions, each "class" separated by age. I remember the yellow pencil with the name of the church they gave me. Free. I remember asking at the end of class if I could have another pencil. They gave me three to take home. We never went back to that church. I am told by both parents that I come from a history of religious people. Growing up, in our living room, a massive bible took up the better part of one of the book shelves. Frayed a little at the edges, the two square feet it took up was nonetheless one of the sturdiest spaces in our house. Besides the Lee-Enfield bolt action rifle, that bible was the most curious tactile thing to my young hands. The gilt pages were thin, like rice paper, the covers joined both by a strong, wood enforced spine on the "back" as well as big, gold, hinged clips on the "front." The print, in German, had that Gothic looping and pointing of a Gutenberg-Bible-Meets-New-York-Times and the pictures that dotted every handful of pages showed these Teutonic giants rummaging around the rocks in pink and blue togas. It was the book one of my paternal great-great-grandfathers, a Lutheran minister, son of a Lutheran minister, brought over from what other people call the old country.  I can't really call it the old country myself, it feels too far removed.  For my mother's part, she tells a story of a Québécoise Catholic priest who fell in love with a French nun, leaving the church to start one half of her family.  My brother became a Presbyterian minister when I was in high school.  I don't remember his ordination, but recall visiting him many times in Pasadena where he went to seminary.  All of this to say, it is no wonder that I like vampire films so much.  And films about the devil.  The sticky conundrums of the damned is like catnip to me. However I am not a horror film person.  The sadistic, slash them up genre, the violence for violence sake type, means little to me. But violence for the sake of eternal evil somehow brings pleasure.  I put it all down to congenitality.  Last night we watched Daybreakers, a vampire film with an industrofasco-corporate-CDC twist.  In it, Ethan Hawke wears the slack jawed disbelief on that hang dog face we've come to expect.  In it, the producers couldn't afford Famke Jansen so they hired Claudia Karvan. In it, Willem Dafoe talks in a vaguely southern accent and Sam Neill, playing Sam Niell, does his very best work once his head has been removed from his body. Michael Dorman somehow elicits an honest semblance of a redemptive arc.  The thing works pretty well.  It is a compact movie that moves at a pace that can't be describe as self-indulgent; neither of the hold-the-shot-too long variety nor the cut-the-crap-out-of-it variety.  Actually, it is the tight, concise story telling that makes this film entirely watchable.  The film itself is beautifully lit and composed in that quasi-sinister way to evoke the expected feeling of modern corporate dread, tinged with that sinking supernatural feeling.  The big letdown comes in the editing.  I don't mean the editing from shot to shot, the style or technique, rather, the director leans pretty heavily on the ah-ha moments, the savior moments and weird eye-to-eye touching moments that one expects in a lesser film.  And all in all, this is a lesser film.  There are too many unnecessarily loose ends, too many uninteresting (read: rote) plot developments, too little supernatural hokum to be anything more. But wait till you get a load of Sam Neill's eye-blink.


benji said...

it was like a vampire Gattaca. Ethan's heart is bad (doesn't beat cause he's dead) and his brother is out to get him (but there isn't a swim race). Uma Thurman might have made it more interesting and a rocket launch at the end would have been nice.

Anonymous said...

Ha! That's absolutely right!