Review: Daybreakers DVD

Daybreakers DVD boxSTUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTORS: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig | CAST: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill
RELEASE DATE: 5/11/2010 | PRICE: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $39.99
BONUSES: making-of documentary, commentary, poster gallery; Blu-ray adds storyboard comparison, short film, digital copy
SPECS: R | 98 min. | Horror | 2.35:1 | 5.1 Dolby Digital EX, 7.1 DTS HD on Blu-ray | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Extras | Overall

Daybreakers movie scene with Vince Colosimo and Ethan HawkeLionsgate‘s Daybreakers isn’t your usual vampire movie. Sure, there’s blood, and bloodsuckers, but in Daybreakers, vampires are the rulers of the world and humans the outcasts. The concept provides an interesting look at vampire lore from the other side of the fence.

Of course, there are familiar parts too. Ethan Hawke plays a character sympathetic to humans, the ying to Sam Neill’s yang as a character who has taken to vampirism with relish. Neill’s character heads a corporation who rounds up, stores and bleeds humans to sell their blood to the vampire population. The problem is, humans are dying out, taking the vampire’s blood source with them. Hawke’s character is a scientist trying to develop a blood substitute without much success. When he meets a human who was once a vampire but was changed back (Willem Dafoe), Hawke’s work becomes dedicated to finding a cure instead of a fix. But his actions aren’t seen as exactly noble by his vampire-happy brother (Michael Dorman) or Neill.

The performances are all fine, also including Australian actresses Claudia Karvan and Isabel Lucas.

Writer/director team Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig offer up plenty of action and style in the movie. Killings are bloody, including some decapitations and bodies being ripped apart, and some deaths are quite creative, such as the way the vampire military deals with second-class vampires who are starving and at risk of morphing into another type of creature.

Said creatures are interesting, and a lot of care was obviously taken in their design. Same with the locations and costumes. The vampire lairs look like something out of Gattaca (Hawke fits right in), while the human areas are more warm and inviting.

On the special features side, the feature-length making-of documentary is what all making-of documentaries should be like. There’s rarely a “He’s a genius … It’s so amazing to work with … so and so is a unique talent” to be found. The Spierig brothers documented all aspects of production, from their initial meetings with Lionsgate, casting, rehearsals, filming, budget problems, editing, special effects, all the way to the movie’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. They do gush about Hawke, Dafoe and Neill, and their amazement at being able to snag them to star in this film, but it’s said with such sincerity, it’s enjoyable. Creature fans will love the section with special makeup effects creator Steve Boyle, and visual effects fans might be surprised to discover that the Sprierig brothers did a lot of the visual effects shots themselves to save money.

The brothers and Boyle also chat on a commentary track with the film, and the DVD also includes a poster gallery.

The Blu-ray also boasts the directors’ short film “The Big Picture” and storyboard and animatics comparison.

To give you an example of the making-of documentary — and the movie’s use of blood — here’s a clip Lionsgate gave us (click the black bar on the bottom to start):


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.