January 8th, 2010

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Still of Ethan Hawke in DaybreakersStill of Ethan Hawke in DaybreakersStill of Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Claudia Karvan in DaybreakersStill of Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Claudia Karvan in DaybreakersStill of Isabel Lucas in DaybreakersStill of Sam Neill in Daybreakers

In the year 2019, a plague has transformed most every human into vampires. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival; meanwhile, a researcher works with a covert band of vamps on a way to save humankind.

Release Year: 2009

Rating: 6.5/10 (51,730 voted)

Critic's Score: 57/100

Director: Michael Spierig

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill

In a world 10 years into the future, vampires make up the vast majority of the population with only 5% of the human race remaining. This presents particular challenges as the vampires' food supply - human blood - is dwindling and rationing is now the norm. There is growing evidence that vampires deprived of an adequate blood supply are themselves evolving into wild, vile creatures that attack anyone and anything in order to survive. Dr. Edward Dalton, a vampire and hematologist who works for a pharmaceutical firm, has been working on finding an artificial blood supply that will meet the vampire society's needs. He is sympathetic to humans and sees his work as a way of alleviating their suffering but his views on finding a solution change considerably when he meets someone who found a way to transform himself from being a vampire to again take human form.

Writers: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

Ethan Hawke - Edward Dalton
Willem Dafoe - Lionel 'Elvis' Cormac
Sam Neill - Charles Bromley
Claudia Karvan - Audrey Bennett
Michael Dorman - Frankie Dalton
Isabel Lucas - Alison Bromley
Vince Colosimo - Christopher Caruso
Callum McLean - Vampire School Kid
Harriet Minto-Day - Lisa Barrett
Jarrad Pon - Vampire School Kid
Sahaj Dumpleton - Homeless Vampire
Victoria Williams - Vampire School Kid
Jay Laga'aia - Senator Turner
Zoe White - Vampire School Kid
Gabriella Di Labio - Businesswoman

Taglines: The battle for blood begins.


Official Website: Official site | Official site [France] |

Release Date: 8 January 2010

Filming Locations: Australia

Box Office Details

Budget: $20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $15,146,692 (USA) (10 January 2010) (2523 Screens)

Gross: $29,975,979 (USA) (7 February 2010)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Shot in 2007, according to an article in Entertainment Weekly (Issue #1085)

Continuity: In the part where Edward goes to meet "Elvis" under the tree. Audrey is being walked up at gun point. When Edward turns around, between Edward and Elvis you can see the drivers side fender full of holes from gun shots and again during the scuttle between Elvis and the soldier. But seconds later you'll see the army Hummer driving up and shooting up a flawless fender.

[first lines]
[on television]
Senator Westlake: Let's be clear about this. Humans were offered a chance to assimilate, but they refused. Therefore, they are enemies of the state and will be captured and farmed for blood supply.

User Review

Vampire sci-fi action adventure with groundbreaking effects

Rating: 9/10

I attended the World Premiere of "Daybreakers" at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. Like many genre films being screened here, it's another fascinating hybrid -- let's call this one vampire sci-fi action adventure.

This Australian horror film (is it something in the water?) was written and directed by brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, the very same filmmakers who closed down the legendary Uptown Theatre in Toronto with "Undead" in 2003. That made this a homecoming of sorts. In fact, it turns out they'd been working on "Daybreakers" since that very day.

It's 2019, and there's been a role reversal -- the world is populated primarily by vampires. Humans are now a hunted minority and an essential food source -- think "Alien" meets "Soylent Green." Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) is the head of a mega-corporation which reaps hefty profits off the "arrangement." Ethan Hawke plays Edward, chief blood researcher. Later, we'll meet outlaw Elvis (Willem Dafoe). His role here becomes more pivotal as the story progresses but I'll leave it at that.

All are up to the task but, despite the presence of veterans Neill, Hawke, and Dafoe, "Daybreakers" is still story-driven and would be less effective if not for an ingenious plot filled with unexpected turns and nonstop action that had me on the edge of my seat, literally. The script is laden with unpredictable twists and shocking reveals that will surprise viewers. Horrific mutant creatures appear out of nowhere with perfect timing.

The brothers Spierig take a thorough hands-on approach, involving themselves in many of the technical aspects along with writing and directing. Ben Nott's sweeping cinematography and crisp editing by Matt Villa helps fulfill their vision of a dark world in which the protagonists are often difficult to identify.

Groundbreaking visual and special effects often elicited cheers from the audience here. I was wide-eyed from start to finish witnessing some of the most jawdropping stunts and shocking "kills" I've seen in a genre film. The color palette is essential to the story as, of course, the undead can only come out at night. Since most shots are necessarily interiors or in darkness, pushing the blue reflects the bleak lighting conditions under which the population lives, as well as the washed-out appearance of what (we imagine) vampires look like. As in most genre movies, sound is as essential to the story as are characters, and composer Christopher Gordon's masterful score matches up with the brilliant work of the effects team to punctuate the many intense action sequences.

Michael and Peter Spierig attended the screening along with Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill. The Q&A ran well into the early morning hours.

(NOTE: "Daybreakers" was the runner-up for the Midnight Madness Cadillac People's Choice Award)

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