Monday, June 4, 2012

Daylight Fades

DAYLIGHT FADES (2010)

Directed by Brad Ellis
Written by Allen Gardner
Starring: Matthew Stiller, Rachel Miles, Rachel Kimsey and Allen Gardner.

Who says a vampire film has to be a horror to be fantastic and memorable? Daylight Fades certainly isn't a horror film, but it is a vampire film and more of a tragic romance albeit drama than any genre film.

I didn't know till I looked up the credits that the actor who played Seth, also wrote the screenplay and I'd say he did a fantastic job. In saying this film reminded me of past vampire films in a similar vein I have enjoyed like Graveyard Shift aka Central Park Drifter, and the previously reviewed Dance of the Damned.


Raven and Seth
The film starts with Seth (Allen Gardner) watching a football game with the look of disappointment on his face, and the sub-sequential crossing out an amount in a notepad, we see that he has lost a substantial amount of money on a bet he made on the game. He walks into the room of a sleeping woman, and touching her stomach we see that she is pregnant, but how so as we'll return to that at a later point. He leaves the house and wanders into a bar looking lost and confused. A redhead beauty named Raven (Rachel Kimsey) eyes Seth, and approaches him surprised, while mentioning that she never thought he'd come back. Seth mentions he can't live like this anymore, and she take him back to her house to comfort him.

Elizabeth and Johnny: The happy couple
Johnny (Matthew Stiller) is at a bar with his friend Jake and his girlfriend. He seems distant and deep in thought about something when he catches the eye of Elizabeth (Rachel Miles) giving him bedroom eyes from across the bar. Jake notices the exchange and tells Johnny to man up and make a move. It's not explained why Johnny isn't interested, whether he just came out a bad relationship or he suffers from low self-esteem. He makes a quick exit to head outside but is confronted by Elizabeth shortly after asking him for a smoke to clear the ice. After a stumble of a start Johnny warms to Elizabeth and they begin to see each other and date.

Elizabeth is out at dinner with her mother, step-father Tim and friend of the family Patrick, who we see seems more a godfather to Elizabeth. They confront her about quitting school and her job, and Tim hints at the fact that he is loath to support her any further. Elizabeth clearly has no love for Tim and storms out of the restaurant into the adjacent bar.

Johnny discovers that Elizabeth has a history of cold feet (and on their first encounters a sarcastic sense of humour), especially after bumping into her ex Kyle and Kyle's fist at a nightclub. During lovemaking, in the heat of the moment Johnny tells her that he loves her, which doesn't impress her greatly. At breakfast he confronts her about it, and she takes off saying she can't return his love. Elizabeth has already explained that she has relationship and trust issues, and as a result they never last long.

Trouble in Paradise
Later that week Johnny is downing his sorrows with Jake in a bar when Elizabeth comes out of nowhere, been told previously by Jake they were meeting up. Elizabeth explains that she is sorry about the other night when Johnny confessed his love, but Elizabeth warns him if they are to go any further that she slept with someone after the fact because she was in pain with the situation, and obviously feels like she doesn't deserve to be loved.

Johnny, who is deeply unimpressed with this turn of events storms out of the bar and gets Jake to drop him home since he doesn't own a car. Waiting to turn at the lights they are hit head on by a car at speed on Jake's side of the car, the driver having reached down to get something on the floor. They are both rushed to the emergency room, but where Jack got off lightly with bruises and scrapes, Johnny hit his head and is dying from internal bleeding. Elizabeth's mother, Tim and Patrick are there, and they are both not impressed when Tim states he has to leave for work, not having any compassion for the situation.

Seth turning Johnny to save his life
Stepping outside for some fresh air. Patrick is surprised to receive a phone call from Seth who is privy somehow to what's going on. Soon it becomes evident that not only is Seth Elizabeth's father, but he is a also a vampire, and in someway thinking he can redeem abandoning her at a young age kidnaps Johnny from the hospital and turns him into a vampire to save his life.

Johnny writhes in pain in his hospital gown on the basement of Patrick's house. He wakes up and instinctively feeds from Seth's wrist, first taking a chunk of it with his teeth. The turning process is complete. Patrick returns home having figured out the motive behind Johnny's disappearance and confronts him, with Seth saying he had to do it for the sake of Elizabeth because she has suffered loss enough in her life, and that he owes her for leaving her as a child.

Blood is Good
The rest of the movie deals with Johnny coming to grips with his vampirism. At first Seth tries to explain that killing animals will keep the bloodlust at bay, but that was a just a ruse to coddle him as later on he realises he DOES have to kill humans, perhaps a couple a month to really survive, his nature demands it. On his second hunt for animals with Seth, he comes across Raven who is also hunting (but for humans) and she leaves an impression on him with her savage nature.

Eizabeth's parents
Seth reveals his true nature and identity to Elizabeth first, perhaps in a way to gently reintegrate her back into Johnny's life. The couple patch things up, and Elizabeth seems to accept him for what he is, and even asks Seth if Johnny and her can still have sex. Seth explains they can but they cannot procreate, which means that Elizabeth was conceived before Seth was turned, and the woman at the start was not carrying Seth's child, a point I mentioned earlier.

Johnny's first kill
At a party of Jake's, which Elizabeth manages to convince Johnny to go to, they run across Elizabeth's ex again, who has two friends in tow, one who decided to make trouble my assaulting Jake's girlfriend. This time Johnny steps in and easily overpowers Kyle this time with his vampiric strength, but leaves immediately as he sees blood oozing from Kyle's mouth. Elizabeth joins him outside and they both decide to leave when Kyle attacks him from behind in revenge. With his speed and strength he overpowers Kyle and takes a chunk of his neck and feeds, dumping him on the sidewalk like trash. Panicking, Johnny asks for the keys and he stuffs Kyle's body in the trunk taking him to a dumping ground where we see Seth previously dump a victim. Elizabeth finally coming to grips with Johnny's true nature panics and asks to leave, and Seth gives her the keys. Seth then explains to Johnny that they need to remove Kyle's head and hands, to prevent him turning and to also prevent identification, and then burn the appendages in a fire.

Raven introduces herself
Johnny is beyond pissed about his first kill, and decides to leave Elizabeth due to his true nature, and also because she has abandoned him twice now when he needed her most, but mostly because Seth lied about having to kill humans to survive. He takes off to a bar where he crosses paths with Raven once more, and she accepts him as her pupil and lover (like Seth was in the past), teaching him more traditional ways of vampirism such as hunting at bars, choosing victims and seducing them for the kill.


Raven teaching Johnny the ropes
At first Johnny is hesitant, then embraces it for a short period before Raven tells hims she is a sick of coddling him, that he needs tough love which will include killing Elizabeth. Several moments later, while she is with her victim in her house, Johnny storms into the room and separates her head from her neck with an axe killing her, and telling her victim to flee. He then goes to Jake's house because he has nowhere to go.

Johnny accepts his nature, for a time.
Meanwhile Elizabeth's mother has left Tim because she is sick of the beatings and his cold-heartedness. Since returning Seth has been watching his old family outside their house from the car and is happy to see Elizabeth and her mother seek comfort and form a stronger bond, and a little later is angered when Tim returns to make amends but then when he is rejected starts beating on her. Seth storms from the car and drags Tim screaming from the house almost killing him with his fangs, but lets him live as long as he never returns. It should be noted that this scene is interposed with the scene of Raven's death.

Raven pushes Johnny to his limits
At the end of the film Elizabeth pleads with Seth to turn her because it's the only way for her and Johnny to be together. He refuses to do so, so she heads down to the kitchen and slits her wrists with a kitchen knife hoping this will force Seth to turn her, but he calls the ambulance instead, having bound her wounds with bandages. Seth contacts Jake and tells Johnny about what happened, and they meet up at the hospital. Patrick is furious about this turn of events and demands after Johnny sees Elizabeth that they both leave forever and let her live her life.

Let's be an undead family
In the room Elizabeth won't relent and says that Johnny, Seth and herself should leave and travel elsewhere to start over as an undead family. While Johnny returns home to pack her things, he finds a missing person's poster for Kyle folded up. He writes a letter to Kyle's parents' confessing to the crime, where his body is and promises he will pay for his crimes, dropping it at  their doorstep. He is shocked as when he attempts to go back to his car he comes face to face with Kyle's grieving mother.

The Beginning of the End
On the road they newly formed family stop to fill up on gas, and while Elizabeth goes to the store Johnny tells Seth he can't live like this anymore, and Seth argues that Elizabeth is prepared to do what it takes to make it work. Further down the road Johnny stops the car, and tells Elizabeth he has had enough, and that what he is shouldn't exist, that he should have died after the car accident. While he feels blessed to have had further time with her, they are not meant to be and he plans to walk into the sunlight. When she pleads, and turns to Seth for help he agrees with Johnny, and having enough of the killing and loneliness decides to join him in the sun.

They both say their goodbyes and profess their eternal love for Elizabeth, and both the vampires await in a field with a look of relief appears on their faces as they are greeted with the rising sun.
Awaiting the sun
There will be no "What I would have done" with this film, I don't think I would want to change a thing, though it would have been nice to see more Raven, and also to have Elizabeth join the undead family and they drive off happily into the sunset.




My Score is 8.5/10

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