This poster looks like fun. I'm sure the film will be too
dir J. J. Perry
This is a pretty dumb film. I still enjoyed it, despite its mediocrity, and in between sighing a few hundred times.
Cobbled together as it is from every vampire movie ever made, almost nothing about it, the performances or the action really stands out that much. And there is almost no novelty to the premise of an LA based war against the undead in which a union, an actual union of vampire hunters labours to save the mindless human denizens of that great city by exterminating these pests who exist in plague proportions who would otherwise prey on them.
If there’s almost something amusing about the premise, it’s that a vampire queen who’s secretly a real estate mogul (which is far worse) is plotting to gentrify the San Fernando Valley in such a way that it’s safe, owned and populated entirely by vampires, and not so much by all those filthy humans.
In this Netflix Exclusive movie, so exclusive and so Netflixy that I cannot imagine a single person subscribing to the service because of it, but maybe a few leaving in spite of it, Jamie Foxx stars as Bud Jablonski, an independent contractor who kills vampires for money. Their fangs are valuable, but only if they’re in good condition, and are over a certain age.
But wait: Bud is down on his luck, having been kicked out of the Union, trying to make ends meet, and trying to convince his daughter and his ex-wife that he’s not a total loser.
Sound familiar? Does it sound like a thousand other films? What if I was to tell you that what it sounds like is exactly what it is, and it plays out exactly as you think it will. The only question remains as to whether it’s enjoyable along the way, if you can stay awake that long.
I guess it was. It’s action-heavy, with long sequences of Bud Jablonski fighting either one vampire for a long stretch of time, or lots of vampires for long stretches of time. The union boss hates Bud with a passion, but it’s expressed in that tedious way of every police captain yelling at their ‘star’ detective who plays by his own rules that was a parody even before The Simpsons started parodying it with McBain.
And of course because Bud needs someone to yell at, he is saddled with Seth, an inexperienced partner (Dave Franco, the Franco brother not accused of sexual harassment and assault, to differentiate him from his brother James) who is there for comic relief and to pee himself in stressful situations.
How much mileage they do get out of that… Fortunately, Seth’s incompetence means he’s not long for the mortal world, but I hear there are multiple opportunities for advancement through the power of the union.
It’s funny to me that the “union” is represented so positively here. Americans have been taught to hate the unions from a steady diet of conservative bullshit and neo-liberalism, so seeing one work as effectively and supportively as this one does is perhaps the most fantastical element in the whole script. One of its most hallowed members is Big John (Snoop Dogg), who wears cowboy regalia and who no one fucks with, human or otherwise. He pops up every now and then for a laugh, looking very old and tired. He’s not a great actor, to be honest, but he is a charismatic presence.
Jamie Foxx is somewhat less than charismatic here. The character is not a particularly interesting one, not that I wanted any complex backstory or character arc to take this generic character from A on the emotional spectrum, all the way to B. He’s just there to kill vampires and get his family back, because, didn’t you know, the real monster is divorce.
The vampire queen is pretty cool, in her vampy way, as an antagonist, but she’s the only one. None of the other vampires really stand out in any way, before or after they die their final death. There’s an extended sequence where Bud and a pair of hunters called the Nazarian Brothers take on about a thousand vampires living in the walls of a house which I guess was meant to be pretty balls to the wall action-y and funny, which felt like it dragged on and on. The Brothers themselves, who I think were meant to be like a cross between wrestlers and maybe The Property Brothers, were reasonably hilarious, but then they disappear from the film once their utility has been expended.
Dave Franco’s character of Seth never stops being around, nor does he stop embarrassing himself until towards the end of the flick where of course he becomes somewhat more useful but also keeps screaming his emotions at the emotionless Bud which is a little disconcerting.
Because this flick has no confidence in itself with everything its borrowed from other movies, it telegraphs most of the outright thefts so clearly that flashing text could have appeared on the screen blaring “This is a direct lift from Blade, this is from John Wick, this is from Evil Dead” probably with lots of exclamation points and maybe a few emojis, and it wouldn’t have seemed out of place.
But I have zero problem with that. I suspect one day soon Netflix won’t only be trying to influence what its subscribers watch through the dreaded algorithm: eventually the algorithm itself will be constructing movies purely from the bits and bytes it lifts from other films, smooshing them together in delightful ways, with dialogue generated from a pool of catchy catchphrases. I look forward to the day.
And when that day comes, the movies spawned will be impossible to differentiate from Day Shift.
But hey, it did eat up 100 minutes or so of my life, time I otherwise could have spent reading a book or smoking crack, so it’s not a complete loss.
6 times Jamie Foxx is becoming the face of Netflix Exclusive movies out of 10
”Westside 4 Life!” - I wonder if Snoop insisted that he had to get to say that during the movie or he wouldn’t be in it - Day Shift