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Not for everyone

By Elvis D Silva
May 28, 2010 10:38 IST
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Over the years vampires have been the moving pictures' favourite undead creatures ranging from Dracula to Nosferatu to Blade or the creatures of Underworld to the brooders of Twilight.

In movies as well as television shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, its spin-off Angel and more recent offerings like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries it seems everybody wants a slice of the vampire action. Only trouble is, storytellers are running out of ways to put a different spin on the premise.

So in Daybreakers, opening on our shores this Friday, the writers (and directors) have come up with a different and quite morbid spin on the whole situation.

In this version the world is overrun by vampires and the human population is less than five percent of the total global population. It is a variation on the world being overrun by zombies. Trouble is, the humans are dying out and there isn't enough blood to go around.

Ethan Hawke plays Edward Dalton, a hematologist working on perfecting a blood substitute that will help feed the billions of vampires running free all over the planet. He wants to find it so that his brethren will stop 'turning' any more humans.

His boss Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) however, has different ideas. Sure he wants the substitute to feed the masses. But he still intends on 'farming' humans for those who want a taste of the real thing and are unafraid to pay extra for the privilege. So apparently, vampires would run the planet exactly the same way humans have.

So much for evolution.

Trouble arrives in the form of Audrey Bennett (Claudia Karvan) a crossbow-wielding butt-kicker who is shown an act of kindness by Dalton and takes it upon herself to bring him to a man who calls himself Elvis (Willem Defoe). Now Elvis makes a pretty tall claim and if what he says is true, perhaps Dalton might be successful in saving the human race.

Does he or doesn't he? I don't want to spoil the movie for the handful of you who decide to check it out.

Instead I am going to wonder about the wisdom that prevailed in releasing this movie here, in India.

Twilight is essentially a teenage love story and thus understood by any hormonal teenager with a crush on that unattainable boy or girl, anywhere in the world. I suppose the sexily-attired Kate Beckinsale could justify the release of the Underworld movie series. But this?

This is a movie that deals with, and in some cases subverts, the existing canon of vampire lore. It will have difficulty finding acceptance among thrill-seeking desi audiences (as it did elsewhere in the world) because it is neither a fun movie nor a gore-fest.

Some of the ideas explored in this movie are interesting, but mostly to vamp-nerds who would like to debate inanities like the relative viability of killing vampires with a stake fashioned out of any available wood versus weakening the beast with garlic first and then driving specifically fashioned stakes through their hearts.

This movie proceeds at a laboured pace and a cavalier audience is likely to feel each and every minute of its running time (even though it is less than a hundred minutes long).

Also the world inhabited by this race of vampires looks familiar in a very been-there-done-that kind of way. It recalls movies like Minority Report, The Matrix, even Blade II and features dialogue more wooden than any stake Buffy ever used. Ticket-buyers expecting another breathless tale of love and lust (or death and mayhem) will be grossly disappointed.

So seriously, is this movie only getting a release because somebody read that it had vampires in it? Because if it is, somebody neglected to read the fine print.

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Elvis D Silva in Mumbai