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Follow True Blood to a natural (or should that be unnatural) conclusion and you'll find a Daybreakers waiting there. For in the not too distant future mankind has all but been replaced by vampires facing a famine of their own making: dwindling supplies of human blood could spell the end of their race. Things are bloody grim, and they're about to get a lot bloodier.

Edward Dalton is the head researcher (Ethan Hawke) of a pharmaceutical billionaire (Sam Neill) is frantically working on a synthetic blood until he meets a rump group of humans. They have a secret whose unlikely name is Elvis (Willem Dafoe), and he might be humanity's salvation. But there are large fortunes at stake (geddit?) and Edward's boss won't have a bar of any meddling in his master plan. Around here, Daybreakers slips a gear and never fully recovers. As the story slides into a silliness neither embraced nor discarded, only Neill (relishing his character's megalomania) and Dafoe (doing likewise with messianic Kentucky-fried cornball), seem to get it. Everyone else is too busy being too earnest to notice. And what is it about vampires and the name Edward?

So many ideas lacking follow through finally undoes the Spierig brother's best intentions. In some ways the surplus of concepts and characters makes this feel more like a TV pilot than fully fleshed feature. Uncertain which way to turn, they fall back on more and more horror staples (shrieking bats haven't been particularly scary since Hammer was a boy) and any residual commentary about predatory corporations or environmental salvation is rendered pretty thin. Character's are left to ponder their future in dark corners rather than get out there and grapple with it. Consequently Daybreakers is entertainingly fashionable in an A-grade, B-movie kind of way, but falls far short of lofty aspirations signalled in lusty opening scenes.

moviereview colin fraser film movie australia review critic flicks