Netflix’s latest addition to the queue had no trouble attracting a celebrated cast. Day Shift has so many stars involved, their names barely all fit on the poster. By the time this lifeless corpse of a movie is over, however, the wonder is not that Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dogg, Dave Franco, and Karla Souza signed on, but that their efforts added up to so little. Bland from its opening moments to its long-delayed close, this film is an example of genre filmmaking at its least inspired, a reminder that just because a movie has vampires doesn’t mean it has bite.
A story about a vampire hunter who spends his days as a pool cleaner and his nights as a serial killer, the movie has been egregiously placed in the hands of a stuntman who has never directed a film before. No wonder it’s such a mess. In fairness, the script by Tyler Rice and Shay Hatten is too dependent on crass humor to be taken seriously as a horror flick. To create a genre mashup, moments of tension have been flattened, the barest bones of a plot have been sacrificed and the horror in general has been streamlined into a meta-action-comedy.
Day Shift doesn’t know if it wants to be Blade or Men in Black, and winds up being neither. It opens in the San Fernando Valley, where the heroic Bud (Foxx) is killing a vampire who happens to be a millionaire. Bud needs the money so he can send his daughter to school, so he joins the very same nosferatu agency he’s been known to hate. Even worse, he has to team up with an accountant named Seth (Franco), who looks like the kind of guy who would call the cops on a litterbug. The pair track down a suspect to Sherman Oaks, which leads them to a hive of fangs and a swarm of cliches ripped straight from MIB.
It follows the beats rather closely, only here, the hunters aren’t secret agents who know what they’re doing. They’re just some guys who want to make a few extra bucks, and are willing to get their hands dirty so their families can have a stable future. The fight scenes are your typical bone-crunching, blood-splattering nonsense, just with a whole lot more puking and screaming thrown in for comedic relief. Supporting characters add color to this mixed bag of satire and vamp slaying, especially Souza as the bumbling Audrey and the lauded monster hunter John (Snoop Dogg), rocking a different style in jeans and a cowboy hat.
However, the film stretches out the conceit too far. The story itself provides no pleasure, but there is some found in the unlikely pairing of Dave Franco and Jamie Foxx. As the two walk into a den of vampires, it’s root-worthy because the actors look so cool, but that’s about it. Vampire movies tend to be vessels for exploring deeper issues in contemporary society, feeding off our fear of impending doom. Day Shift doesn’t do any of this, nor does it offer any stakes besides the ones used for lopping off heads. Ultimately, this crude, ultra-violent comedy needs a lot more to sink our teeth into.
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