Sunday, August 29, 2010


The vampire genre is a tired genre. But the vampire film Daybreakers spins it a little differently. I am not going to comment on how good or bad the film is, but there are some useful writing pointers in it:

1. There is always a new angle to an old theme.

Vampires are done to death. We’ve had mafia vampires, romantic vampires, clannish vampires, monster vampires. Daybreakers introduced virus vampires. Vampirism in this text is not a magical advantage but a plague/ disease caused by a virus. (The Underworld series had that idea too, but didn’t follow up the idea on a grand scale) This allows the old theme a science fictionish angle eventhough it is not totally legit. And it is a complicated disease. One who gets infected, will experience body shut down but retains his capacity to think and act. The body having no further biological activities will not deteriorate, will not get other diseases, will not age. The body is dead but preserved and retains its soul. As bizarre as it is, the writer calls this ‘immortality’. The body will continue operating this way as long as it is fed with human blood. Deprivation will cause the body to turn into giant bats (I know it is lame.)

Look out, Michael Jackson!

2. Moral dilemmas always make a story more interesting.

Now, as the story has taken the turn mentioned above, the writer puts in moral dilemma to give the hilarious theme weight/ substance.

a. Once there are too many people turning into vampires, the rest of humanity which is not infected is left with two choices – turn voluntarily into vampires or to resist. If they turn, they’ll become the ‘immortal’ undead, dependant on human blood. If they resist, they’ll be fed to the growing vampire population.

b. Once a cure is found, the vampires face two options – to turn back into humans and gave up their ‘immortality’ or to remain vampires and live miserably.

There are a host of other dilemmas too, on the personal level:

a. Will you turn your own family to save them from being killed even if it is against their wish?

b. Is suicide an option if you cannot accept living as a vampire?

c. What happens when there are more vampires and there are less and less humans to feed on while blood substitute is not yet found?

"Just because I am using a microscope that doesn't mean I'm in a legit sci-fi"

3. When dealing with an overdone genre, find a point where you can reverse an aspect of the genre:

Many modern vampire films picture vampires as superior – they’re beautiful, do not age, have unnatural long lifespan that can only be cut short with violent accidents, stronger, have special abilities. The humans are the ones pining for the vampires or pining to be vampires.

In Daybreakers, the humans look more beautiful than the vampires (But then, I was looking at Ethan Hawke). The vampires are pasty-looking and have strange jaw structure (I was looking at Sam Neill, who isn't much of a looker these days).

What is this? A Harper's Bizarre photoshoot?

4. Writing with conviction will help strengthen even the most outlandish idea.

Daybreakers thinks of the situation on a large scale. No more little vampire covens and rogue vampire running around solo. Cars are built with daytime viewing apparatus. Subways are subwalks. Blood is the new sugar. The society comes alive only at night – schools, offices, all open at night only.

As a conclusion, Daybreakers writes about the dilemma of mortality versus immortality, while the truth is nothing can be immortal in fiction and become interesting. Death is too interesting to be put aside in fiction, or anywhere else.


  1. Dear Syarin,

    I googled Lifeforce and it was an old movie. I couldn't possibly catch it.

  2. Dear Teacher Ayu,

    try this link =)

    p/s i never watch it, just read it at wiki [coz i don't like to watch or read things that i'm already knew =)]

  3. Blade 2 also has more or less the same idea (virus of vampires killing vampires). When it comes to vampirism, there's nothing new anymore. It is indeed a tired genre, a tired theme, so tiring in so many ways! But yes, Daybreakers spins the theme 360 degree, which shows that no matter how old and common the theme is, one can always explore it from a new angle.

    Having said that, this doesn't mean that I'm into vampirism when I watched a number of vampire movies. I watched a number of such to help me pen down my thoughts on Twilight :-p

  4. Nana,

    I somehow had a hunch that you might have watch it out of spite. But I'm glad you did!

    As for me, I'm a freaky vampire addict.