In the near future, a bat-borne plague has turned 99% of the human population into vampires. The remaining humans are hunted down and farmed for blood by a corporation headed by Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), an individual who views vampirism as a miracle since he was dying before the plague broke out. There aren't many humans left though, and when a vamp goes without blood, they turn into grotesque Nosferatu variants called subsiders. Bromley enlists his top hematologist (Ethan Hawke) to come up with a blood substitute, but an underground band of surviving humans has a different resolution in mind.
This film has a unique premise, and for the first hour or so, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the world that Michael and Peter Spierig created. The opening scene shows one of the downsides of vampirism, as a girl takes her life rather than be stuck in a child's body for eternity. There were other fun touches thrown in too, like blood coming in wine bottles and being poured over ice. The film's storyline touches on themes of corporate greed taking precedent over the good of the public, and there is an underlying oil subtext that is less than subtle.
The second half turns into a clichéd mess. The ending in particular is really cheesy as a result. Truthfully, I would have been happy if the whole band of humans idea had been scrapped entirely. Surely they could've come up with something a little better. I mean, this is a pretty creative film. Other segments of the picture seem rushed, like the subplot involving Bromley's daughter. Speaking of Bromley, Sam Neill is one of my favorite actors, so it was great seeing him in a genre film again. His presence is the highlight of Daybreakers. I've never much cared for Hawke, and his performance here did nothing to change my mind. Willem Dafoe also pops up, and while I usually do like him, his character here is annoying.
As is, chalk it up as a movie that could've been more. Oh well, at least it's way better than the last work from the Spierigs, Undead. That was one of the rare films that I stopped watching halfway through. Quick note: I saw a father and two young teens leave shortly after an early scene involving a gory testing of the blood substitute. Guess they thought this would be another Twilight.