Daybreakers posits a world where almost everyone has become a vampire, and the few humans are farmed for blood. OK, I probably took that exactly from the trailer. Whatever. The plot revolves around the efforts of one Good Vampire Scientist, Ethan Hawke, to find a blood substitute/cure, with the help of some human survivors living in secret, armed with crossbows. Meanwhile, Ethan Hawke's evil corporation led by Sam Neill (who apparently refuses to be cast as anything but super-creepy villains these days? what happened to Dr. Grant, huh?!) and the Vampire Army hunt humans to be methodically drained of precious, precious blood, like cattle. Cuz see, if a vampire doesn't get enough blood in his coffee (seriously), their frontal lobe deteriorates and they get all Nosferatu-monster. And these vampires really, really work at being civilized. Lunging after blood is impolite. Looking like something that crawled out of the Capuchin Catacombs is even worse. And they're running out of blood, yo, the end is near.
The nuts and bolts of the plot are pretty irrelevant here, and the movie knows it, because it keeps getting bored with its heroes - the humans and Ethan Hawke who are trying to find a cure out in the countryside, in wine fermentation vats - and showing us more snippets of the vampire metropolis unraveling as the blood shortage triggers riots against the government ("our families are starving!") and more and more people become Nosferatu-monsters ("he was a local gardener, I saw him two weeks ago!"). And for good reason. The worldbuilding here is really fucking cool (of course, I had a series of recurring nightmares when I was nine where everybody was a vampire but me). The heroes are bland. Their plot does not build tension. The cure makes no sense. There's a bunch of melodramatic music inserted lamely. The human refugee-rebels were a carbon copy of those in Children Of Men, and even less interesting (if that's possible). I was about 90% of the way through when I was going to conclude that this was another movie with a cool premise and failed execution, when...
The anti-military scene happened. I'm not going to explain how this comes about (too much blah-blah), but basically, you get five minutes of soldiers eating each other. And rest assured, these are not "contractors" like the Avatar guys - these are U.S. soldiers (the directors are Australian, fwiw, so...) It's extremely bloody. I'm talking organs-flying gore. And to make it even better it's punctuated by these moments where a few soldiers have regained their senses and stand there, slack-jawed and covered in blood - until they, too, are devoured by "friendly fire." This stunned me. I just found this scene incredible.
I should also add that this movie opens with a little girl vampire writing a suicide note to her family and then committing suicide in the daylight. In other words, this movie is bookended by two extremely striking scenes. I don't think there's any embedded message about our current society here - I think it's just an attempt to tell a good yarn, an attempt that ultimately cannot live up to its worthy premise - but damn.
If you like horror - and can stand gore, because I said before, for all the vampires' plastic civility, this is a gory movie - I recommend this one. If nothing else, because it takes an interesting concept and really sees where it can go (unlike Avatar, whose concept seems to have been "cobbled together in a weekend’s time" even though J. Cameron has supposedly been sleeping on it since 1997). This is bold these days, both in Hollywood and in horror. The directors, Peter and Michael Spierig, also did Undead, a zombie movie that I also found extremely interesting (but was pretty much ignored) - so look to these guys, along with Neil Marshall of The Descent and Dog Soldiers, to be strong contributors to the horror movie genre. There are clear flaws, but it deserves a look. It was certainly more interesting than my date.