Top underrated horror ‘gems’ – #10 Daybreakers

*Check out the general premise to the list in my previous posts*

Daybreakers (2009) is directed by Michael and Peter Spierig, and stars Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill – who made the list for the second time, after Event Horizon. You average viewer have no consideration for this guy!

This is a very original movie set in a futuristic word largely dominated by vampires, where the human race – reduced to few survivors – is force to hide. As a consequence of the lack of human blood, the vampires are struggling to find enough nourishment to survive and also to fight the ‘subsiders’, former vampires who turned into bat-like monstrous creatures when they started to eat other members of their own race.

First of all, the ‘new world’ everything took place in is designed masterfully. The technology is advanced but believable, the dark world where the vampires are forced to live is astonishing atmosphere-wise, the innovations made to adapt facilities and architecture to the night-based cycle is spot on.

In such a landscape, the pivotal character and protagonist Edward Dalton – the head hematologist for the pharmaceutical company Bromley ran by Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) – is played by Ethan Hawke, who gave the best performance of his career alongside with Regression, in my opinion. He has the duty to research a synthetic blood substitute to satisfy vampires’ blood hunger world-wide.

However, when he randomly helps a bunch of humans to escape the vampires who are chasing them, he starts being involved with the survivors’ project to find a cure for the vampirism.


Hawke character’s development is made so well; he is so likable that’ impossible not to root for him. The guy nailed it, he did a fantastic job in this film.

Nevertheless, the protagonists’ characterization is a trade-mark of Daybreakers. All the characters are compelling: Sam Neill is a great villain, who’s lacerated by doubts – he wants to convince his daughter to become a vampire but he doesn’t want to hurt her; he wants to find a way not to die out the last humans but at the same time he tries to make money out of the human market.

Audrey (Claudia Karvan) and Lionel “Elvis” Cormac (Willem Dafoe) are perfect sidekicks to the movie ‘hero’, being well acted, fairly developed and by delivering meaningful lines.

Frankie (Michael Dorman), Edward’s brother, has an incredibly interesting arc examined throughout the movie and his role is fundamental in the storytelling.

Not just great characters, though. This movie has much more to offer. From a visual point of view, Daybreakers is flawless – the colors are perfectly balanced, the camera work is managed fantastically, the editing has no weak spots.

Yet, the practical effects are marvelous – the fight scene between the Daltons and the subsider who breaks into their house proves that – as well as the CGI, which is utilized just where needed and it’s also hard to spot.


Daybreakers is also scary and gory. It’s one of the few movies that’s able to make the best out of the jump-scares technique, being able to mix them with a deeply unsettling tone. On the other hand, the film contains tons of gruesome sequences, where body parts and blood are spread all over the set. It’s a violence ‘to your face’, instead of being hidden by the shaky cam.

All of these elements should make for a great movie, but there is more Daybreakers is going for.

The social commentary behind this movie is strong, inspiring and impressive. The symbolism many scenes are built on helps to deliver the message in a very profound way. In a world spit into light and darkness, the characters are constantly dealing with a grey area where it’s hard to decide what is wrong and what is right to do.

You guessed it know. I’m a fan of Daybreakers. It’s one of my all times favorite movie. It has everything a horror fanatic – and also a cinema fan – looks for. It’s action packed, it has drama, entertainment, thrilling scenes, comedic moments – provided by Willem Dafoe’s character – horror elements, original plot, unseen development, compelling protagonists, great look and feel, social commentary and so on and so forth.

The only nitpicky I have with this masterpiece – because that’s what Daybreakers is – is the fact that it’s too short. I would have loved to see more than just 97 minutes of all this stuff.

In conclusion, Daybreakers is a rare gem you don’t want to miss out. I don’t recommend you to watch this movie – I commend you to do so, you won’t regret it. Cheers.