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By Emily Booth, Thursday 4th May 2017
The vampire film. Since its dawning way back in 1922 with the German expressionist film Nosferatu, this transgressive creature has enjoyed various mutations and metaphors, from Hammer Horror romanticism to gritty realism in films such as Abel Ferrara's The Addiction (1995) and Midnight Son (2011) where the vampire formed a metaphor for drug addiction. The vampire found new (very sparkly) light in the guise of the Twilight franchise which began in 2008 and opened up a whole new PG-friendly market; the teenage girl.
Suddenly everyone wanted an intensely good looking undead 'Edward Cullen' for a boyfriend and the franchise was insanely successful, but the horror audience shunned the films for obvious reasons. It was all rather frothy, lightweight, and, well, sparkly. But just one year later in 2009 came a vampire flick with a new direction and a sense of realism that posed a very real paradoxical problem; what if vampirism were a real epidemic? How would society evolve if 95% of the population were vampires that needed human blood to survive, but by hunting down their own food supply to the point of extinction, their own survival was under serious threat? Daybreakers poses such big questions and paints a picture of how society might really look if the world went vampire.
Curfew is at 5am, blood becomes a corporate business, and your local coffee shop swaps shots of hazelnut in your coffee for a shot of the red stuff. But in this dark world, is immortality a blessing or a curse? Human blood is dwindling fast, the last remaining humans are hunted down and farmed, the Science sector is racing against time to make a synthetic blood and the suppliers are rubbing their hands wanting to corner this lucrative market. But surely even vampires have a conscience? Could they really initiate the extinction of the entire human race? And is a blood substitute really the answer? Ethan Hawke plays the Chief Haematologist at Bromley Marks pharmaceuticals and is caught between the two worlds of vampire and human. He is a vampire ordered to design a synthetic blood, but is also working with the underground sect of humans to try to rebuild humanity and find a cure to vampirism itself. But of course it's not as simple as that! Blood is now big business, and not everyone wants to go back to being human...
Drawing upon themes of corporate greed, depleting our world of natural resources, and the paradoxes of being human, this film really opens the vampire genre up to intellectual territory should you so want to analyse it this way. Even if you don't, the film has some killer creature designs that are more monstrous than just a pair of fangs and yellow contact lenses, and the big budget set pieces make for dramatic viewing. Directed by The Spierig Brothers (Undead, 2003) and also starring heavy weights Sam Neill and Willem Dafoe, this is one blood-fuelled brave new world.
Daybreakers gets its network premiere this Saturday 6th May at 10.50pm.
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