Day Shift Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Who would have thought that a vampire movie starring Snoop Dogg, is exactly what the world needs? This R-rated Netflix production is bloody, sometimes even messy!
Genre: Action / Comedy / Horror
Director: J.J. Perry
Cast: Jamie Foxx, James Franco, Karla Souza, Zion Broadnax, Meagan Good, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Oliver Masucci, Eric Lange,Steve Howey, Scott Adkins, Peter Stormare & Snoop Dogg.
Run Time: 113 min.
US Release: 12 August 2022 (Netflix)
UK Release: 12 August 2022 (Netflix)
German Release: 12 August 2022 (Netflix)
A new week, a new Netflix release. This J.J. Perry-directed debut tackles the vampire theme, as so many flicks produced by the streaming service do every year. Naturally, I was sceptical when this was announced on their platform, especially since Netflix doesn’t have the best rep-sheet on pictures this year. Nevertheless, knowing that Perry comes from the stunt sector, I still had hopes. After having watched it, I can honestly say that while this is not a great movie, it is entertaining as hell! So grab your stakes, sit down and enjoy my review for Day Shift!
Bud is a hard-working, blue-collar dad, who just wants to provide a good life for his smart and perceptive 8-year-old daughter. Little does anybody know that his uneventful San Fernando Valley pool cleaning job is a front for his real source of income: hunting and killing vampires.
An amalgamation of John Wick, Vampires plus Beverly Hills Cop, the screenplay by Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten (a writer for John Wick 3) is missing a fresh note, as the plot is very generic. While the action sequences are really well helmed, the story is not only flat but predictable, adding nothing new to the cinematic vampire lore. This is noticeable around sections where the lead character is supposed to be fleshed out, yet there is nothing to delve into, thus dragging down the pacing of the film. Having said that, there is no denying that it is amusing most of the time, due to its over-the-top battle sequences, as well as the fast-paced entry at the beginning.
The narrative also doesn’t stick to its own rules about killing vampires, changing it in every new scene, and trying to cover it up with details that make little sense. While the small snippets of information about the underworld in John Wick, simply added to the mystery, the same can’t be said about Day Shift. This is a straight-up action-pulp movie and it would have served the plot better by creating some deeper world-building. When did the hunter-union form? How does it work? How many people are aware of vampires? Why are they running around in daylight? Those are questions answered on the most basic level, though, never really explored.
The dialogues are mostly recycled B-movie conversations from the 80s/90s. It mainly consists of trash-talking, as well as toilette humour. However, while the jokes don’t always land, it is the way the actors express them that mostly adds a smirk to the audience's face.
The characters themselves are incredibly clichéd, easily exchangeable with anyone else if it weren’t for the entertaining way the actors portrayed them.
Jamie Foxx as Bud Jablonski gives a fantastic performance and has wonderful chemistry with Snoop Dogg’s Big John - who does not have a lot of screen time. Foxx gives a slight eccentric performance, though not too much, making his character funny in all the right ways. Bud himself is the typical heroic lead, who in this case is a little too good at what he does. The one issue I had with Foxx’s portrayal, is that one does not buy him caring for his family.
James Franco’s Seth reminded me somewhat of Billy from Beverly Hills Cop, updated for a 2020’s audience. He is the nerdy side-kick, still wet behind the ears, who starts as a union rep, following Bud to scribble down every violation he performs. Franco, gives an all-right performance, although it does feel like every character he ever played in other flicks. Some toilet humour is used at the expense of the characters, which is more pathetic than funny.
Karla Souza as Audrey San Fernando plays an elder vampire who is the main villain. Souza does the best she can with what she is given, sadly, her character comes off as generic and one-dimensional. On the other hand, Oliver Massucci, who is criminally underused as Audrey’s right-hand man, is an immediate scene-stealer as he evokes a threatening presence, one that Souza can’t replicate.
The fighting and battle choreography are where this movie excels at! J.J. Perry himself is a former stunt coordinator, knowing how a brawl should look on camera, and he uses his knowledge to full effect. The action is not cut up, instead, the camera stays on the battle. The camera work is generally well handled, although the cinematography also does have its flaws! The colour correction at post-editing led to an oversaturation, giving an aggressive unrealisticness to the picture overall.
The biggest surprise came from the effects department, which explained that most vampires were played by contortionists, so as to not rely too much on special effects. Of course, it also has its fair share of CGI, which looks mostly good, however, there are segments where it is plainly obvious that special effects are at hand.
I also need to pay respects to the guys from sound editing, as one can feel every “boom” shot from a gun and every character thrown against a wall or an object. I don’t always comment on sound effects, but it is very well helmed here!
The music is mostly popular west-side hip-hop/rap played in the background. From the opening sequence playing a remix of 2Pac’s ”California Love'', to the end credits’ “Outside the Box” by Snoop Dogg feat. Nate Dogg.
Verdict: J.J. Perry's debut feature is a fun B-movie that gives the John Wick story a horror twist. The plot is pretty basic and doesn’t try to create something original. The hero’s arc is very predictable plus it contradicts itself several times when it sets up the rules for vampires. Nevertheless, this is meant to be more of a simple popcorn flick, with a lot of well-filmed action and blood. The characters are typical cliché caricatures, with Jamie Foxx’s hero being larger than life. I don’t think the family element was needed for Bud, as it slowed down the fast pace of the story and Foxx didn’t give his persona much credibility about caring for them. The villainess was boring and one-dimensional. What elevated the fun factor was Snoop Dogg as a vampire hunter! Day Shift is absolute trash but the actors make it damn enjoyable. I'll give it a 5.5 out of 10 - this will definitely be my top guilty pleasure film of the year!