"Daybreakers," the latest film to drive home the idea that vampires are most definitely in right now, is about as far as you can get from the romance and diamond sparkles of "Twilight." It's bloody, it's violent, and it portrays humanity as an endangered species, a dwindling food supply squandered by the excesses of the latest dominant life form on the planet.
The near-future world created by writer/directors Peter and Michael Spierig is one that falls very close to our own, with the main difference being that Average Joes and Janes are mostly active at night. And a change in their diet, of course. It's a clever twist on established vampire tropes, a look at a world in which the blood-suckers have won.
"I thought the approach was really fresh," Willem Dafoe told MTV in a recent interview. The actor stars as Lionel "Elvis" Cormac, a one-time vampire who regains his humanity following a freak accident. Dafoe plays the role of hero in the movie, working to save the last remaining vestiges of humanity from being turned into lunch.
"It's such a well-established genre that usually people are doing takes on it," Dafoe said. "You could [go back to the roots.] It's very flexible, the vampire mythology, you can use it to serve lots of things. God knows it's a great metaphor for talking about everything from sex to romance to power to colonialism to ... you name it."
Forget about the phenomenon, "Daybreakers" actually predates the first "Twilight" book by at least a year. Lionsgate acquired the Spierig's script in 2004, a year before Stephenie Meyer's debut novel was even released. The timing of this movie's release, between "New Moon" and "Eclipse" is fortuitous, but the takeaway is that the vampire mythology was going to be tweaked with or without the saga of Edward and Bella.
"This isn't an apology, because obviously [Lionsgate] factored very big on when ['Daybreakers'] was going to be released, but this was in development far before ['Twilight']," Dafoe said. It's true that Hollywood is very much susceptible to trends, usually built on underlying beliefs and fears in the public's subconscious. Look no further than the disaster movies of the late-'90s or the post-9/11 string of safe, feel-good storytelling.
"I think ... there are surges of, whatever, football movies, there are surges of sports movies, there are surges of a certain kind of political movie," Dafoe said, driving that idea home. "These things, they're cyclical. The vampire myth keeps on getting recycled."
Check out everything we've got on "Daybreakers."
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