|Daybreakers is a 2010 science-fiction horror film written and directed by Australian filmmakers Michael and Peter Spierig. The film takes place in 2019, where a plague has turned most of the planet’s human population into vampires. A vampiric corporation sets out to capture and farm the remaining humans while researching a blood substitute. Lead vampire hematologist Edward Dalton’s (Ethan Hawke) work is interrupted by human survivors led by former vampire “Elvis” (Willem Dafoe), who has a cure that can save the human species.
Daybreakers premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was released in the United Kingdom on 6 January 2010 and in North America on 8 January 2010. The film grossed over $US50 million and received a mixed to positive critical reception.
In 2019, a plague has transformed most of the world’s human population into vampires. Incapable of aging or dying, human numbers dwindle and the need for blood becomes desperate. When deprived of blood for extended periods, vampires degenerate into subsiders: aggressive bat-like creatures. Humans are captured and harvested in laboratory farms while scientists research a synthetic blood substitute to satisfy vampires’ blood hunger. The main supplier of blood in the United States is the pharmaceutical company Bromley Marks, run by Charles Bromley (Sam Neill). Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) and Chris Caruso (Vince Colosimo)–hematologists working on the blood substitute. Under pressure from Charles, they try multiple versions in a series of failing clinical trials. Edward secretly refuses to drink human blood, and faces a strained relationship with his brother, Frankie (Michael Dorman), a human-hunting soldier.
Due to his refusal to drink human blood, Edward begins to notice signs that he is becoming a subsider. While driving home from work he notices his ears are becoming pointed (a key indicator) by looking at himself in the vanity mirror. Distracted, he almost collides with another car, which swerves to avoid him and hits a power substation. Edward exits his car to check on the passengers of the other vehicle, who we find are a group of humans led by Audrey (Claudia Karvan), who rescues and hides humans from vampire patrols while they attempt to win allies amongst the vampires. Edward lets the group hide in his car as the police arrive, and tells the officers that they ran off in another direction. Audrey then leads the group of humans away, but not before stealing Edward’s ID badge. Later, Audrey appears at Edward’s home and asks for his help, presumably because of his human sympathies and scientific specialty. He meets Elvis (Willem Dafoe), a man cured of vampirism after a car crash resulted in him being exposed to sunlight before he fell into a river. After some experimentation, Edward is able to duplicate this effect and is cured himself.
When a convoy of humans headed to Audrey’s group is captured by Bromley soldiers, Charles is reunited with his human daughter, Alison (Isabel Lucas), and has her forcibly turned by Frankie. She refuses to drink human blood, but feeds on her own instead – and thus begins to turn into a subsider. She is killed when a group of the creatures are rounded up and executed. Witnessing Alison’s death upsets Frankie and he seeks out his brother.
Edward, Elvis, and Audrey meet with Chris and ask him to help spread the cure. However, Chris has finally discovered a viable blood substitute and does not want a cure to become widespread. He calls in a vampire patrol which captures Audrey while Elvis and Edward escape into hiding. They are finally found by Frankie, who agrees to help but is gradually becoming a subsider. He attacks Elvis and they discover that feeding on a former vampire is another cure for vampirism.
Edward turns himself in and goads Charles into attacking him. Edward uses the now-cured Charles to cure a group of soldiers experiencing the beginning of subsider aggression. Edward and Audrey, cornered by more soldiers, are rescued when Frankie sacrifices himself to the soldiers. This sparks a feeding frenzy that leaves all of the soldiers dead or cured. They are confronted by Chris, who kills the few remaining cured soldiers to hide the evidence of the cure. Elvis arrives and rescues Edward and Audrey by killing Chris. The three survivors then drive away into the sunrise with a voice-over by Edward stating that they have a cure and can change others back.