This is probably the longest wait I've given before writing a review for a movie I saw in theater. I went to see this last night (Friday), and I guess I've just been preoccupied with other things to write a review. But let's get to it before I forget the movie. I've been interested in this movie since I saw the first trailer, as I thought it was a unique spin on the (no pun intended) dead-to-dying vampire genre.

The movie takes place in the near future where the majority of the human population has been turned into vampires. But the human race is nearly extinct, and the vampires are running out of blood. They're driven to either starve or feed off other vampires (or, worse, themselves), both paths turning them into bat-like monsters called Subsiders. The film focuses on (sigh) Edward (Ethan Hawke), a hematologist looking for a blood substitute. Unlike most vampires, though--such as his brother Frankie (Michael Dorman) or his boss, Charles (Sam Neill)--Edward refuses to feed off humans. He ends up meeting an underground band of humans including Lionel "Elvis" Cormac (Willem Dafoe)--a human who was once a vampire and somehow turned back. So now Edward must work with the humans and stay out of the government's grips long enough to figure out how to replicate the cure.

The first thing I noticed about the movie were its painful similarities to Twilight--a vampire named Edward who refuses to feed off humans, vampires having golden eyes that get darker the hungrier they get--but then the movie really started off and I was able to put those aside (except for the "Edward" thing. Every time Sam Neill said "Edward" all dramatically, I think I died a little inside).

From the trailer, the one thing I was worried about was that the movie would be all action and no substance, and I really wanted a vampire movie with a hearty balance of action and substance, which isn't very common (not even you, Let The Right One In. I think the only other one I can think of at the moment is Chan-wook Park's Thirst). And thankfully, I was treated to just that. It isn't the non-stop bloody action film that the trailer suggests. Yes, there's action and yes, there's blood, but it isn't the whole movie.

However, there were a couple things that I think could have been cut because they tried to add substance and, in the end, just added pointlessness. For instance, the subplot about Sam Neill's daughter really had no relevance to the overall plot except for an important taunt at the end. And one character's "backstabbing" moment at the end has no rationale behind it. It just felt like an attempt at one more bit of suspense. And maybe had they fixed those things, they could have figured out a better ending. It's like... the climax happens and the writers are like "Oh... uh... I guess we should end it now? OK, yeah. Cue pointless voiceover and one last scare attempt."

Those are really my biggest issues, though. The best part of the movie is its attention to detail. The golden eyes, the bite marks on the neck, the "blood creamer" for coffee, a random shot of a vampire character not having a reflection in the mirror... just things like that. It even goes into details of how vampires travel in the daylight if they need/want to.

The visuals are outstanding, for the most part. The bluish hues that tint the film add a coldness or deadness to its feel (while the human scenes have more orange/sunlight or life colors). The only visuals I didn't like were the ones of the vampires burning in sunlight. That was such terrible CGI, which is completely uncalled for in this day and age. There were those parts that reminded me of I Am Legend-level bad for CGI, but they were few and far between, thankfully.

And speaking of I Am Legend, who are you to be scared of when everybody is a vampire? In the aforementioned story, it's the remaining human. In this, it's the Subsiders. The Subsiders were an interesting twist and rationale behind why they needed to drink human blood. And some of the slow changes or different stages of transformation reminded me of District 9's gradual alien transformation.

As for the action, there was enough and it was great. Was it bloody? Oh yeah, especially the climax of the film. It's not the goriest stuff ever, though, for those of you who get bothered by that. There's just quite a bit of it--again, the climax is the heaviest part. The vampires don't really have super strength or anything (nothing explicit, anyway). The only 'super-strong' moment was with a Subsider. But as I said earlier, the movie was more about its characters than its action.

Finally, the acting was good, which is to be expected from the likes of Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe. And Willem Dafoe was actually pretty funny in the movie. I really enjoyed his character, who added some much needed humor to what's an otherwise dark movie.

Overall, it's a really good vampire movie with a good balance of action and drama. Good acting, mostly great visuals, and a creative and unique twist on an old story. So if you want to see a vampire movie that actually pays attention to the details, one that isn't just the same old thing, I recommend this movie. It isn't perfect, but it's good enough.

I Am McLovin!


  1. Great review! What's best about it is that it's spoiler free while still offering up relevant plot points to illustrate the structure of the story. I've been humming and hawing over whether to bother with this, a while it still ranks after my interest in Book of Eli, I still might get there before I see Kick-Ass, hopefully.

    I guess I'm most thankful for the fact that despite probably wanting to be commercialized, they dodged as much of the Twilight stuff as they could.

  2. Oh, BTW: We've nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger Award! Which I think means you've not only been nominated, but have also won it... which is what we assumed when we were nominated. Anyways, keep up the good work!


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