Welcome back to the arena!
Today we'll be taking a look at two films that delve into the world of vampires. While both offer two different views on an old legend made famous by Bram Stoker, they are considered a fresh and modern take on the vampire. Vampires are a tired genre that has been Hot Topic'd to death by the very queer Twilight series so, whenever a new vision is introduced to us on the silver screen (or DVD shelf) we must receive it with welcoming eyes. Today, we will determine which is the better film.
Remember...there can be only one!
The first contender is...Daybreakers.
Gattica. Blade II. Dark City.
If you've seen these films...and liked them...then, you'll probably have a good time with Daybreakers. A film set in the future when the world is basically run by vampires...and real human blood is in such short supply that the vampires are starting to get a bit batty---literally.
The film is a solid entry into the vampire lore by directors (and brothers) Michael and Peter Spierig. Ethan Hawke is actually pretty good in this. And let's face it...Willem Dafoe is pretty good in anything he does. Although I hated Antichrist, Dafoe was still entertaining in that film...even though he spent most of his screen time demasculating himself. In Daybreakers he IS the fuckin' man. He plays a man called Elvis who leads a small group of humans left to rid the world of evil vampires. Also...he's the one with the crossbow.
Sam Neill is also really good in this as Charles Bromley, the leader of the vampire pharmaceutical company called Bromley Marks, the main supplier of blood in the U.S. He plays the film's foil perfectly as a vampire who lives in greed and power. Hawke's character, Edward Dalton, is a hematologist feverishly working on a synthetic blood substitute in which to keep the vampires satisfied.
Daybreakers probably won't be remembered 10 years from now...but, saying that the Spierig brothers' first film, Undead, was mediocre with moments of greatness...their second effort, Daybreakers, paints a much more mature world and shows what they are capable of. It's a good film filled with many layers and depth and also introduces a new world through the visionary lens of the talented film makers.
Twilight ain't got shit on Daybreakers.
The next film ready to do battle is...30 Days of Night: Dark Days.
Ok....I was among the few that really enjoyed 30 Days of Night...so, when I first heard of the second installment I immediately got a little happy. Then, I read that it was being released straight to DVD. My happiness evaporated into uncertainty. Then, I gave it a chance one night when I went in to rent Splice and saw that some other jackass had it rented out. I brought it home and played it on my really expensive entertainment center and found that it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. Of course, it wasn't that good, either.
Dark Days takes place right after the events of the first film. Stella is on a mission to avenge her love, Eben, by employing extreme prejudice on any mothafucka who needs to drink blood in order to survive. She makes her way to Los Angeles where she learns from a group of human "bad asses" that Lillith, the vampire queen responsible for the ravaging of her sleepy Alaskan town, has set up shop there. She joins forces with said "bad asses" in which to exact revenge and hunt the fuckin' blood drinkers down. You might think that this a film worth watching based on that premise. In many ways...it is. However, in many ways...it is not.
Stella is played by the lovely Kiele Sanchez because Melissa George was too busy trying to stay away from Direct-to-DVD material. While Kiele Sanchez is definitely nice to look at in her underwear, she doesn't really bring that certain fine line of vulnerability balanced with bitter toughness that George naturally had in the role. She just seems like she's there pickin' up a paycheck. Speaking of "phoning in" your performance, the perfectly hot Mia Kirshner plays the vampire queen Lillith and as hot as she looks as an evil creature of the night, all she does is stare off into space and mumble alot of unnecessary vampire speak. It's really a shame, because she could've been really something in the role.
While the film isn't all that bad for a Direct-to-DVD affair, it really isn't all that good....it's just kinda there....not feeling like it wants to do anything worthwhile with the premise adapted from a comic book series from Steven Niles by Steven Niles and directed by some guy named Ben Ketai.
30 Days of Night: Dark Days is...ok.
Hot Female Factor: Claudia Karvan plays Audrey Bennett and is pretty goddamn smoldering in the role...BUT(!), I've had a crush on Mia Kirshner since 1994's Exotica...so, she could be playing a goddamn mountain goat searching for her family in a Disney flick and I would still be somewhat aroused. Plus...she bathes in blood in the film. Winner: 30 Days of Night: Dark Days
Gore: Both films are rampant with exploding vampires and blood galore...so, there's really no clear winner here. For every severed limb one film has...the other's got a throat being ripped out or someone's flesh being chewed on. I think in the end, it kind of balances out...because even though Dark Days technically has a little more gore in its film, it looks so much better in Daybreakers. Winner: Tie
Acting: Unfortunately for Dark Days, Daybreakers has Willem Dafuckinfoe in it...so, by default....this one's pretty much a no-brainer. Winner: Daybreakers
Film Quality: Daybreakers looks stunning. The Spierig brothers do a fine job in creating a believable world set in the future overun by vampires. It has such a glossy sheen to it and the set pieces are extremely well made. It gives the impression that the film was shot on location in another world. Dark Days takes place in Los Angeles and looks like it was shot on location in someone's basement. Winner: Daybreakers
Overall Score: As much as I really wanted to love 30 Days of Night: Dark Days, it really doesn't take the genre to anywhere new or exciting. It gets stuck in a pointless muddle of meh and doesn't ever show any promise of anything great. Daybreakers gives us a glimpse into a new world richly colored with imagination. It is a very well made film full of promise and great performances. In an age where vampires sparkle like Liberace, Daybreakers is the real deal Holyfield.
Daybreakers gets an 8.5 out of 10.
30 Days of Night: Dark Days gets a 5.5 out of 10...mostly for Mia Kirshner's ass.
Thanks for reading,