starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Carvan, Sam Neill
written and directed by The Spierig Brothers
by Ian Pugh The Spierig Brothers' Daybreakers is a juicy genre exercise waiting to happen, and maybe it would have happened if the film weren't tangled up in hamfisted allegory. What sets this vampire flick apart is not its high-pitched screed against capitalism (the system's fulla bloodsuckers, I tells ya!), but the fact that its staked vampires explode into a bloody mess. Its most beautiful sights are certainly not rooted in the dawning of a new day, but in Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe spontaneously bursting into flames for one reason or another. This is not what you'd call a dry film, yet I can't help thinking that a little more ichor would have been for the better. Funny how that works, actually: the Spierigs' last film, Undead, was a splatterfest in desperate need of a point; here, they finally have a point, and all you want to see is the next exploding vampire. (Where the two pictures are most alike is that they're both shot through a series of increasingly-obnoxious pastel filters.) It'll take another film to determine whether the Brothers have anything worthwhile to say, but the lingering suspicion is that they simply lack the creative instincts of their beloved Sam Raimi--that vital ability to discern the profound from the fatuous.