A Sunny "By The Books" Vampire Adventure
Score 7/10 - Recommended
Posted by Kevin Nickelson | September 1st, 2022
For many horror genres and sub-genres, the paradigms of storytelling were set in stone somewhere between the ‘60’s and the ‘90’s. After that, the most any filmmakers could hope for is to whip up a successful pastiche of everything that’s been tried-and-true, adding a few interesting wrinkles and approaches here and there. Which brings us to DAY SHIFT, the latest horror/action/comedy presented by Netflix.
First-time director J.J. Perry and writers Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten must have realized that there’s no way to ‘reinvent the wheel’ with the vampire genre, so what they’ve concocted is a mélange of bits and pieces of BLADE, JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRE$ and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, with all the zippers and seams evident. Make of it what you will, but this reviewer considered it a somewhat amusing, if all-too-recognizable popcorn time-passer. Bud Jablonski (JAMIE FOXX) is a vampire hunter working the day shift (see what they did there?) in Los Angeles, undercover as a local pool cleaner. The poor blue collar shlub has got heartaches by the number, and vampires by the score, to paraphrase the old country dirge.
The hunters’ union has kicked him to the curb for the umpteenth time, and it couldn’t be more inconvenient for Bud, as his wife, Jocelyn (MEAGAN GOOD) has plans to move herself and daughter Paige, (ZION BROADNAX) to a much more desirable (and affordable) city. Striking up a bargain with Jocelyn, Bud promises to come up with $10K within the week, to help cover the expenses needed to convince his missus to stay. Which is going to require union reinstatement to see that kind of scratch.
Fortunately, in spite of union boss Ralph (ERIC LANGE) busting his sac about all the violations that got him kicked out in the first place, Bud does have an ace in his corner: his compadre “Big John” Elliott (SNOOP DOGG) to vouch for him.
But the reinstatement isn’t without its catches, as Ralph pairs Bud up with a new “chaperone”, Seth (DAVE FRANCO), who’s about as field-ready as Little Miss Muffet. Obviously, this is in the hope that Bud will screw up enough to be ejected from the union permanently. Meanwhile, vamps have somehow discovered a sunscreen with an SPF that will enable them to do their snacking on L.A. citizens during the day as well. Also: someone is offing the bosses of different vamp groups and claiming their turf, in a bid to unify all of the city’s bloodsuckers. Which won’t be good news for anyone if that happens.
The poor blue collar shlub has got heartaches by the number, and vampires by the score
So the rest of DAY SHIFT is about Bud, Seth and anyone else they can round up to prevent a vamp Armageddon. So, now you can see what I mean. The fight sequences are visually dazzling and on point, but nothing you haven’t seen in any contemporary vampire flicks, where martial arts moves are the rule, not the exception. Jamie Foxx, not in “going-for-an-Oscar mode” is good enough to watch as the “straight man”, while Dave Franco’s traumatized nebbish elicits a few laughs here and there. And Snoop? He does what he does best: playing a bit more heightened version of himself, so if you’re a fan, you won’t be disappointed.
And as always, there’s one or two actors who turn up, just to remind you that it could’ve been a way better movie than it is. In this case, it’s the always dependable Peter Stormare as a slimy associate of Bud’s. His hello/goodbye appearance uplifts the proceedings for a moment or two at least, before you return to the regularly scheduled carnage already in progress.