If you look at the array of sci-fi and fantasy-themed films that have graced screens recently, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that isn’t based on a novel or a comic book. Twilight? Based on a book. Watchmen? Based on a comic. Avatar? James Cameron is facing several plagiarism charges for his epic masterpiece, need I say more.
But then we have Daybreakers, an original piece of screenwriting by Australian brothers Michael and Peter Spierig that combines the aesthetics of the comic book genre with the action and suspense of a Hollywood blockbuster.
The film is set in 2019. Vampires have overrun Earth and as the human population dwindles, the vampires must come up with an alternative blood source to stave off extinction of their own. Hematologist vampire Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is close to finding a solution, but when he meets humans Audrey (Claudia Karvan) and Lionel ‘Elvis’ Cormac (Willem Dafoe) his life is transformed in more ways than you can imagine.
The sci-fi genre takes Claudia Karvan in a new direction, as the Australian actress is better known for her dramatic roles in the TV series Love My Way and The Secret Life of Us. “The physical stuff – such as fighting with vampires and shooting crossbows – I don’t see as a challenge,” she says. “The biggest challenge for me was trying to keep the subtle, dramatic stuff I’m known for alive within an action genre framework. It’s a really minimal and disciplined way of storytelling. I’m used to dragging things out,” she concedes.
Asked how she feels about the film boosting her international profile, Karvan is humble yet cautious: “My mind goes blank when I’m faced with questions like that. I’d love to do more films of this magnitude but I don’t want to put myself in a position where I’m waiting by the phone for a role to come along,” she says.
Karvan speaks fondly of the film’s creators, Michael and Peter Spierig, who made a name for themselves with the 2003 low-budget flick Undead: “Daybreakers solely came from these two guys’ imaginations. That’s almost unheard of with sci-fi films these days,” she says. “I really respect their work ethic and their passion.”
Released March 11 (NZ) and February 4 (Aus).