It is the distant future of 2019, and a plague has turned almost every human being into a vampire. With the population of humanity on the verge of extinction, a brave scientist starts to develop a cure that could possibly convert vampires back into their original human selves. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of Daybreakers from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 98 minutes
Genre: Horror/Sci-Fi

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio (Blu-ray)
Subtitles:English SDH, Spanish, English
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill, Willem DaFoe, Claudia Karvan, Michael Dorman
Written & Directed by: The Spierig Brothers
Music by: Christopher Gordon
Region Code: A

Release Date: September 10, 2019
"The Battle for Blood Begins"

It is the distant future of 2019, and a plague has turned almost every human being into a vampire. With the population of humanity on the verge of extinction, a brave scientist, Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Boyhood, The Magnificent Seven), starts to develop a cure that could possibly convert vampires back into their original human selves.

My Take:

Ten years after a plague turns most of the world's population into vampires, a critical blood shortage causes panic and gruesome mutations among the reanimated. Edward (Ethan Hawke), a vampire hematologist, tries to develop a blood substitute when he meets Lionel (Willem Dafoe) and Audrey (Claudia Karvan), two fugitive humans who claim to have a possible cure. Edward casts his lot with them in the hope of perfecting the cure before it's too late.

I seem to recall having seen Daybreakers but, couldn’t remember the circumstances or impressions afterward so I opted to give it a spin on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Having been released nine years ago it was right around the beginning of the post-apocalyptic film run that became popular. It’s a sci-fi horror hybrid of sorts that doesn’t waste a lot of time on story building or textured characters but, instead delves straight into its doomsday arc and somewhat campy horror.

Oddly enough this seems to work as the connective tissue to the empathetic and likeable character of Edward, the divisiveness of villain Charles and the heroics of Elvis counterbalance the thematic tone well enough to keep the film afloat.

It’s all pretty run of the mill but, I managed to find myself mildly entertained and rooting for the outcome that I knew would come. Daybreakers is a more or less throw away genre entry but, that doesn’t make it unworthy of your time, especially if you’re prone to fancy films of its ilk.

Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

The rating is for strong bloody violence, language and brief nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 78
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 82
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

Daybreakers comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Daybreakers was rendered from a 2K DI and up-converted to 4K.

Daybreakers is a contemporary film that adheres to sepia tones and color grading, which ultimately leaves some sequences appearing less visually engaging than others. In looking at the opening moments the first thing that struck me was that there wasn't an appreciable uptick in sharpness and detail compared to the Blu-ray. Upon closer inspection, I could make out finer details in facial features and clothing but this predominantly came during close ups. On occasion, discernible improvements in depth could be seen in wide-angle shots such as the scene where Edward meets with Elvis in the filed under the tree but, in most respects, I saw minute differences in apparent resolution when checking select scenes from the UHD and Blu-ray.

I also found the presentation to be on the tame side in terms of its use of dynamic highlights. There were some noteworthy instances where flashes of light and the fiery deaths of sun exposed vamps lit up the screen nicely but, I didn’t find that the image in general, made visually compelling use of interstitial black levels offset by vivid bright elements. I felt that the presentation appeared to be middle of the road, when compared to the better Ultra HD presentations I have seen. I wouldn't describe it as poor quality, but there is little about this Ultra HD presentation that left an impression on me.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Daybreakers, I felt that the DV rendering made for a noticeable improvement over the HDR10. Much of this came when comparing the same scenes and finding that the rendering of the interstitials within the darkest areas of the image were more delineated. I also thought that gradations in the white detail and pop in the specular highlights were easier to see. While I wouldn’t categorize these differences as stark, I definitely felt that the DV rendering was my preference.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the moderately active variety that made effective use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a blend of atmospherics and discrete effects. When applied it creates a discernible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. There are a multitude of set pieces that show off the track’s blend of music and smaller object sounds that create an involving listening experience, that broadens the soundstage. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere as well as the integration of discrete object placement. I think that it complimented the source material and drew me into the film when it mattered most.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Daybreakers Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Daybreakers Blu-ray
    • “Making of Daybreakers” Multi-Part Documentary
    • The Big Picture (Spierig Brothers Short Film)
    • Audio Commentary with Co-Directors Peter and Michael Spierig and Creature Designer Steven Boyle
    • Theatrical Trailer
  • Digital
Final Thoughts:

Daybreakers is a serviceable post-apocalyptic genre bender that musters enough of a story to keep interest going. It is making its Ultra HD Blu-ray debut in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack from Lionsgate Home Entertainment, featuring an excellent Ultra HD presentation (which includes Dolby Vision HDR), a solid Dolby Atmos immersive sound mix, and legacy supplemental material. If you’re a fan of Daybreakers and are set up for Ultra HD Blu-ray/Dolby Vision HDR/Dolby Atmos sound, there is enough of an upgrade here (at the right price) to warrant purchase consideration.
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems