Directed by JJ Perry. Cast: Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Snoop Dogg, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Meagan Good, Karla Souza, Steve Howey, Scott Adkins. 18, 113 minutes.
day shift made me long for the eighties, a decade I didn’t even live. And that’s not because there’s deliberately engineered nostalgia at the heart of this vampire comedy, though its final line nods to a pinnacle of the genre, Joel Schumacher The Lost Boys (1987). day shift left me longing for an era when this kind of original light horror filmmaking would be taken seriously. Where it would have been invested both creatively and financially. Where it wouldn’t have been dumped on Netflix like a bit of nuclear waste on a Friday morning, something to spit out to fill all those empty lines on the homepage.
Certainly its premise is workable enough: a gung-ho vampire hunter (Jamie Foxx’s Bud Jablonski) is forced to join forces with his fellow pacifist (Dave Franco’s Seth) to restore his reputation among the elite bloodsucker exterminators. You see, even the paranormal realm doesn’t spare the worker – when he can’t raise the $5,000 he needs to pay his daughter’s (Zion Broadnax) tuition, his ex-wife (Meagan Good) moves in with her and hers kid around florida. Snoop Dogg also stars as Big John Elliott, gunslinger-type guy trying just as hard as he does in those Just Eat ads. Meanwhile, alpha vamp Audrey (Karla Souza) threatens to dominate humanity through its most malevolent means – real estate development.
day shiftThe director of , JJ Perry, is a stunt performer who first became a director along with fellow stuntman Chad Stahelski (of John Wick) stamp as producer in time. So the film’s plot is both its selling point and its strongest element. But it’s hardly his salvation. Knowing how to choreograph a fight requires very different skills than knowing how to capture the same fight on film. Perry’s work is littered with cool-sounding ideas — like tossing a bullet so it lands perfectly in another gun’s chamber — but they’re all shot with the flatness of a home tour video (I say that specifically because one of the set scenes takes place in a mansion in the suburbs, and I found myself getting a lot more invested in the floorplan than I was in killing vampires).
Perry clearly had his peers alongside the film’s screenwriters Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten From dusk to dawn, Terrible night or The monster squad as their cultural touchstones to keep in mind. But the film’s artificial smoothness robs with that orange-teal hue that plagues so many Netflix action films day shift from the tactile shlockiness it took to actually function as a throwback. It also lacks the eccentricity needed to make either its characters or its world pop off screen. Apart from Peter Stormare, who plays exactly the kind of sleazeball he’s played in a hundred other fantasy films, everyone here seems unusually subdued – especially Foxx and Franco. Both actors can get manic when asked to, but here they feel less like a comedic odd couple and more like two people only mildly irritated with each other.
And I hate to ask, in a world where an excess of lore has been the downfall of so many projects, but day shift It lacks any sense of context as to what exactly this vampire hunter coalition is or does. Why are portraits of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass hanging on office walls next to encrusted antique weapons? Is this organization linked to the government like a paranormal? men in black? And why, most importantly, when Seth monologues about the greatness of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, isn’t he referring to the cursed Renesmee doll that has plagued the internet since the film’s release? They just wish someone cared enough to mention it.
Day Shift is now streaming on Netflix
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/day-shift-netflix-film-review-jamie-foxx-b2142880.html Day Shift Review: The Netflix vampire movie lacks the eccentricity and shlock appeal it so badly needs