Daybreakers (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Daybreakers 4K ReviewDaybreakers is a genre film that entices with a fairly interesting concept. What if somehow the world became a place where vampirism somehow became the norm and humans were the mythical beings that we never really saw. The concept is intriguing. The execution might be where the sum of its parts begin to crumble. Celebrating it’s tenth anniversary, Daybreakers made it’s 4K debut on September 10th.


The year is 2019. Ten years earlier, a plague (from an infected bat, of course) has swept the globe and converted the majority of the human race into vampires. The people of the world have adjusted to vampire life, living by night and drinking coffee spiked with blood. All is not moonlight and bloodlust however, as those vampires who are blood deprived become Subsiders (think of the evil vampires of the silent film era…) who are murderous, evil (eeeeeevilllll) and terrifying (if you’re scared of that sort of thing…) Sunlight is obviously deadly to the vampire population, and there have been advances made to ensure survival even in the daytime. Subways, tunnels and car modifications make life livable in the vampiric state and life progresses on… yada, yada, yada.

Hematologist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) works his nights trying to find a blood substitute due to the shortage of human life. He works for Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) who runs Bromley Marks and is a ruthless business owner. He demands productivity to keep his wealth rising. In short, he’s a rich douche, but undead.  Dalton refuses to drink human blood and feasts on the blood of animals while he works on his research in his cold, blue lab.

While all of this wonderful scientific and futuristic advance is going on, there is of course a human resistance going on… Audrey Bennett (Claudia Karvan) is the head of the resistance, and escaped vampirism by hiding in a vineyard in 2008. Rounding out the main cast is Elvis (Willem Dafoe, in a very out of place performance) who is a “ex-vampire” who also happens to be a mechanic with a small arsenal and a method to become human again. Together they become Daybreakers.

If all of this sounds intriguing to you, I advise that you make your way to the tech specs now, because here is where I begin my actual criticism.  I truly did not enjoy the movie. I was so excited to see something like this that would refresh my liking of vampire themed films and move me away from that Twilight vampire feeling.  The Spreig Brothers put this together from their own screenplay and this is all their debut film project.  I didn’t even realize there was such a movie as this until it was announced to hit the 4K format.  I truly liked the premise of vampires living as humans once did, and how they go on a quest to find themselves solace and a cure.  The ideas on film just don’t work.

The problems in Daybreakers begin quickly. The gloom and doom look of the film is a start. Most dystopian type films have this same glum look. The next issue is the complete and utter waste of the lead actor’s talents.  We’ve all seen Hawke, Neill and Dafoe in much better films and roles.  Their characters are droll, boring, and are portrayed with a wooden quality that is unlike any I’ve seen in a so-called action/thriller.  The story arcs and a dry military subplot never really get off the ground, and you never get an urge to care for the characters you’re watching. Even the villain is bland.

Special effects are also of the awful variety.  While this film is 10 years old, tech advancements for effects were by and large not far off from what we have now, and these effects have not aged well and were probably dated when the film was first released. The capper is that the film is a little more than an hour and a half long, and it feels as if you’re watching a film paced to be near the 2-and-a-half-hour mark. It is dreadfully slow.  Action scenes seem to be copy and pasted from other better films and some of the concepts for killing off vampires seem to be just plain dumb. There is so much thought being put into these moments, and yet so little care seems to have been put through to make the effort worthwhile.

There are some other plot details that I’d love to share, but those would indeed be spoilers.  In the end, I can’t really recommend this film to anyone unless you’ve seen it and enjoy the film already.  It’s boring, dull, and feels endless. The characters are flat, the payoff is not even considered, and the ending is frustrating too.  I’ll be very honest, and just say that you shouldn’t waste your time with Daybreakers. Everyone involved could’ve done so much better.


  • Encoding: HEVC/ H.265
  • Resolution: 4K
  • HDR: HDR 10, Dolby Vision
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Clarity/Detail: Clarity gets a decent uptick from the seemingly archaic Blu-ray.  The film takes place in a lot of darkness and rain, but we aren’t losing any details in that gloom.
  • Depth: Depth is decent as well. There is definitely more definition in this presentation than in other formats.  The depth really shines in the Bromley Marks offices.  There are little details you’d never notice in other formats and those are pretty interesting to check out as the film slowly marches on.
  • Black Levels: Black levels look wonderful throughout. The darkness is part of the tone of the film overall, and so those many dark scenes look nearly perfect.
  • Color Reproduction: Blues and greys are the dominant colors of the film. They look just as they should. Fire makes a nice bright display when it’s seen on screen, and daytime scenes, however sparse are wonderfully golden.
  • Flesh Tones: The undead look just as the Spreig Brothers most likely intended. There’s a paleness to most everyone on screen, even those that are alive, but I think that’s the point.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Nothing too serious, but I did notice some DNR has been done with some of the effects shots.


  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (7.1 TrueHD Core)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, English SDH
  • Dynamics: This is a surprisingly immersive mix. Dynamics are very spot on for the most part and there is a lot of depth and clarity in scenes with a lot of activity. Battle sequences shine, with sounds everywhere in the sound field and using the channels in all the best complimentary ways.
  • Low Frequency Extension: Bass is great when it’s used. Nice and deep. Battle scenes are again where the bottom end is best utilized.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Main surrounds are used for ambient sounds, cars and trains, crowds and all the usual suspects. The surrounds pan as needed too, helping to put you right into the dirge of the film.
  • Height: Height channels are used best in those action sequences, and overheads come to life with gunfire, explosion effects and some bat sounds moments in the film. A scene in a silo later in the film is also a good one for Atmos height effects.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Nice and clear all around.  Dialogue is of course prioritized in the center channel, but when voices are off screen, they’re placed exactly where they should be in their respective channels.


Daybreakers comes to light with features ported over from the 2009 Blu-ray (which is included in this package), a shiny slipcover, and a digital code. The features are as follows:

  • Audio Commentary by the Sprieg Brothers and Steve Boyle
  • The Making of Daybreakers (HD, 2:01:38) An engaging, very long documentary on the making of the film.
  • The Big Picture: A Spreig Brothers Short Film (HD, 13:51)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:27)


Daybreakers itself is an awful film.  The concept is interesting, and the idea of the un-dead going on to live as humans again is all well and good. The execution is what ends up being terrible. Talent is wasted, story lines are started and ended with lame resolve, and it all is just so un-enjoyable.  The technical merits of this disc are solid however, and fans of the film are encouraged to go ahead and make the purchase.  This is another quality (in technical terms only) albeit random release in the Lionsgate canon.  Skip it if you haven’t seen it before.



Daybreakers 4K Review

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