Directed by: J.J. Perry
Distributed by: Netflix
Written by Nick McCann
Action and horror almost work in the same ways, working to elicit a reaction out of the viewer. They may do it in different capacities, but one could easily say they get the same visceral adrenal surge from “Die Hard” as they do from “The Exorcist.” Blood will pump for different but equally fulfilling results. Naturally, the two genres find themselves mashed together and a decently noteworthy offering comes with one of Netflix’s better action projects.
Under the sun of Los Angeles, vampires roam the night and it’s up to a secret hunter’s union to keep their numbers down. “Day Shift” shows some potential in its world-building, showing how vampire killing is a normal 9 to 5 for the best of the best. Some of it is admittedly waved through quickly, but the thought is there. Certainly more interesting than the core plot, which is ripe with cliche. You’ll find the progression no different than any 80’s buddy action movie. I half expected Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy to run around any second. So while it’s derivative in the moment, the grand scope lends itself to some fun.
Stylistically, this is the latest riff on the “John Wick” formula and you feel it right away in the action sequences. The movie promises that level of carnage with vampires in play and delivers in spades. All the fight scenes are fast, energetic, and blood-soaked! Wide-angle cinematography, excellently timed editing, intricate stunt work, and cool makeup effects, all come together in a unique aesthetic. A big highlight is the use of contortionists as vampires, which spices up the choreography remarkably. It’s all further amped up by a bumping soundtrack that drives home the excitement.
Jamie Foxx is a charisma machine, dishing out punishment with swagger. Dave Franco offsets him with another tried and true whiny baby character. The two of them end up growing on you as a duo, delivering their fair share of buddy comedy. Almost every other character is standard in archetype, giving good performances despite nothing new being added. Snoop Dogg as a cigar-chomping urban cowboy is really fun though! And Scott Adkins, along with Steve Howey, delightfully steal the show in their fight scene.
“Day Shift” makes no bones about what it is and delivers straight-up fun. It’s another case of action making up for storytelling shortcomings. Adding vampires into the “John Wick” formula and working them into the fight choreography ends up being a worthwhile thrill ride. This isn’t a very demanding movie and why should it be? Jamie Foxx kills vampires by the fistful! Take it as it is, which is quite entertaining.
“Day Shift” Trailer
You can connect with Nick on his Facebook and Letterboxd.