Day Shift (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – A hard-working, blue-collar dad who just wants to provide a good life for his quick-witted 8-year-old daughter. His mundane San Fernando Valley pool cleaning job is a front for his real source of income: hunting and killing vampires.

My Take – It is quite surprising how studios are still backing up vampire flicks, haven’t they like gone out of style? With most of their traditional clichés like garlic and aversion to sunlight now being a regular in comedy space. However, this latest Netflix original dares to bring serious vampires back into mainstream, by dialing it up to eleven and by throwing in a John Wick inspired twist on the formula.

Unsurprising considering the film marks the directorial debut of longtime stunt coordinator J.J. Perry (John Wick: Chapter 2, F9: The Fast Saga), is produced by John Wick franchise director Chad Stahelski and is co-written by Shay Hatten (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum) and newcomer Tyler Tice. And if that attached action caliber wasn’t enough, this bloodthirsty romp employs contortionists and performers from Cirque du Soleil to portray its bendy, acrobatic vampires.

Resulting in a horror comedy that’s heavy on style and action spectacle, but unfortunately slight on everything else, that too despite elaborate world-building, which includes blink-and-miss evidence that the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) might be canon to this universe.

Yes, given director Perry‘s long history of being one of the busiest and most accomplished fight choreographers/stunt coordinators/second unit directors in the business, the film is never dull and has a strangely entertainment value that offers viewing experience as perfectly serviceable vampire romp, but considering how the early 2000s inspired final third brings the film to a grinding halt and sucks out everything decent out, it is hard to rate this one higher in a good traditional sense. Well at least, the action is good and the actors seem to be having fun, right?

The story follows Bud Jablonski (Jamie Foxx), who is not an ordinary San Fernando Valley pool cleaner, but in secret is actually a freelance vampire hunter as the City of Angels is filled with vile, sinister bloodsuckers. Mainly selling vamp fangs for profit, Bud is struggling to make ends meet financially, but gets a major motivation to step up when his estranged wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good) announces plans to move with their young daughter Paige (Zion Broadnax) to Florida.

With a requirement of $10,000 real quick, Bud turns to his friend, Big John Elliott (Snoop Dogg), a well-respected vampire hunter, to get him back into the international vampire-hunting union’s good graces to earn enough quick cash to keep his family close.

Unfortunately for him, supervisor Ralph Seeger (Eric Lange) not only puts him on the day shift which does not pay as well, he must also be supervised by union rep, Seth (Dave Franco), who is tasked to look for, and report, any violations committed by Bud. Making matters worse is that Bud finds himself the target of ancient pantsuit-clad vampire Audrey (Karla Souza), putting all their lives in jeopardy.

The threadbare story is merely a vehicle to transport Bud and his pals through various vampire fights, with the script seeking to unearth laughs and fun where it can, which includes having Snoop Dogg on board as a veteran vampire hunter. The film zips Bud along from set piece to set piece in his bid to keep his family from leaving while keeping his vampire slaying a secret.

It’s so fast-moving that nothing has the time or room to develop beyond its action sequences. After one stylish fight scene, Seth pauses to ponder the unique circumstances of an eclectic variety of vampires cohabitation, running down a list of jargon. Bud acknowledges the weirdness of the situation but prompts them to move on to the next high-octane sequence.

The film attempts at humor are more miss than hit as an ongoing joke about pants-wetting especially grows tiresome. But whatever does stick, a big part of the success of the film’s humor is down to Foxx‘s commitment and awareness of the kind of film he’s in.

Director Perry’s background as a stunt coordinator is also felt throughout as the film offers up a fresh transfusion of kinetic thrills to the non-stop hack-and-slash spectacle. But like everything else, the film has the feel of being made up as it goes along in between the fight scenes, anemically building toward a loud, long and tedious climactic showdown.

While the first two thirds move apace, the final third comes to a grinding halt as exposition sucks the air out of the film, with the whole set up going down as a product of days gone by. Even the villain, Audrey San Fernando is extremely weak and forgettable. Her motivations are established, but there is nothing to put her above generic action film villain territory. Furthermore, Heather (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) gets a significant role in the final act that doesn’t feel earned due to a lack of screen time before it.

Jamie Foxx carries most of the film’s meat on his shoulders, the emotional beats as well as the humor and action. Watching it, it is hard to imagine another actor balancing each of those things without one of them feeling lacking, but Foxx manages it with an ease that speaks to his acting ability: chiefly, he never breaks the tonal boundaries of the film. Dave Franco hams it up as the feeble, constantly terrified Seth, who’s more of a hindrance than any kind of help. But the chemistry between the pair is genuinely good as Bud takes the role of a reluctant mentor to a union rep who’s supposed to be reporting back on his every move.

Karla Souza tries her best, but is letdown by her poor role’s characterization. Snoop Dogg is ever brilliant in the black cowboy vampire hunter mode and his deadpan stoner vibes are always a welcome treat. In other roles, Meagan Good, Zion BroadnaxSteve Howey, Scott Adkins, Oliver Masucci, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Peter Stormare and Eric Lange do well. On the whole, ‘Day Shift’ is lackluster inoffensive vampire romp that makes for serviceable entertainment.

Directed –

Starring – Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Natasha Liu Bordizzo

Rated – R

Run Time – 113 minutes

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