This movie surprised me by not being nearly as terrible as I was expecting it to be. I love it when that happens! Also: Ex-Boyfriend-of-the-Weekapalooza : bonus!
The story begins ten years in the future, when most of the humans on the planet have been infected with some sort of plague, turning them into vampires. The few humans that remain are being hunted for food (their blood), as more and more people are converted, tipping the population too far in the vampiric direction.
As supply-and-demand problems heat up, a pharmaceutical company (Bromsley Marks) decides it’s high time they cash in. Company researcher-slash-vampire Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) has been tasked with the job of developing a synthetic blood substitute, one he hopes will end the genocide of humans and make it possible for the two races to coexist peacefully. But the pharmaceutical company’s CEO, Charles Bromsley (Sam Neill, NOT sucking in this, for once of late) has a different agenda — he wants to get vampires hooked on his stuff so he can make a fortune.
Meanwhile, the company has hired a bunch of bounty hunters and sent them out in search of humans they can bring back to HQ, where they’ll be sedated, hooked up to machines, and then “farmed” for blood. But the blood shortage quickly hits critical mass; vampires are starting to starve and, when deprived of blood for long enough, begin to suffer brain damage that makes them devolve rapidly into crazy monsters.
This fractures the vampire race, causing the creation of an army of sorts, tasked with keeping the derelicts down. But Dalton, horrified by what he’s seeing around him (especially the farming of humans for food), teams up with a small band of humans who have stumbled across a “cure” for vampirism. Determined to right the vamp world’s wrongs, Dalton begins helping the group’s leader, “Elvis” (Willem Dafoe), figure out a safe way to administer the cure (which involves using sunlight to set a vampire temporarily on fire) hoping it will ultimately reset the balance of humans and blood-suckers on Earth.
I really liked the overall concept of this film — it’s one of the few monster movies I’ve seen where the monsters are the majority, first of all, and while I found it a little bit heavy-handed about its various messages (evils of corporate greed, dwindling natural resources, animal rights, the perils of eating processed foods instead of organics, etc.), I was definitely 100% along for the ride.
The problem hits about twenty minutes from the end, though, when the movie suddenly shifts into standard action/horror mode. Instead of carrying the whole “cure” thing through to an interesting finale, it pretty much just drops all the science balderdash and replaces it with a gory series of shoot-outs and exploding bodies. I thought it was headed in one direction (Edward stumbles upon another “cure” for vampirism that looks like it would work much better and be sort of self-perpetuating as well), but instead of really pursuing that “twist,” it seemed to me like the writers got bored with their own ideas and decided to throw in the towel and start blowing shit up instead.
ALSO, and this has nothing to do with the film itself, but is more a general beef about DVDs: this DVD has a really, really annoying root menu that asks the user to select whether they are “human” or “vampire” before opening up the playback options. Not having seen the film, I didn’t really get the joke, and I was confused — often a DVD that starts with two options like that is asking me if I want the widescreen vs. standard display, or the theatrical version vs. the director’s cut. I had no idea what I was being asked to select here. And so, Dear DVD Production Companies: Please do not confuse me with meaningless options on your DVD menu. It’s not cute. It doesn’t amuse me. I don’t want to have to sit through animation or gimmicks — I just want to start the damn film. God.
Minor complaints aside, however, I really enjoyed this one. Overall, a good experience and definitely a flick I would recommend to anybody who likes a goodish-badish monster movie.