DAY SHIFT (2022)
Release Date: 08/12/22 [Netflix]
"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."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Since its launch, Netflix has always been synonymous with the streaming empire as we known it today. At times, it can seem as if with the amount of content being pushed out that the company has an endless pit of money, just throwing cash at creators and seeing what sticks. We’ve seen some success, such as the critical acclaim of 2019’s The Irishman, which had a budget of nearly $250 million. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen some critical failures as well, such as with last year’s Red Notice, which had a budget of $200 million. It’s hard to decipher if they’re just throwing money at large movie stars to try to create mindless entertainment, or where exactly that large budget is going, but Day Shift definitely falls into the latter half. While it’s definitely entertaining, Day Shift struggles on many fronts, including a poorly pieced together script, weak characters, and mortally controversial depictions.
Almost right off the bat, you can tell that the creators wanted a deep and intricate world to build that would be interesting for the audience. There’s introductions of different types of vampires, each with their own specific qualities, almost as if they’re subspecies, and there’s an interesting comment about vampires creating a type of sunscreen which enables them to go outside during the daytime. In the final cut though, a lot of this seems to be missing. Throughout the film there’s casual pieces that are mentioned here and there that almost feel like expository dialogue, but it’s never fully comprehensible, and never important to the plot of the film. Everything that’s dropped into this film to make the world more interesting is entirely inconsequential, and just left me confused as to why it was really mentioned to begin with.
This type of storytelling and writing also unfortunately leaks through to the characters of the films. Jaime Foxx’s character has a good enough motivation of wanting to protect his family and make enough money to prevent them from moving, but the main antagonist of the film seems to only rely on one emotional crutch as her motivation factor. She’s depicted as this large, threatening, and powerful villain, with a large complex of followers who will obey her every command, and yet she consistently struggles in her fights against Jaime Foxx’s character. Obviously it makes for an interesting watch, but being set up the way she is, it shouldn’t even be a competition between the two.
There’s another character who makes a brief appearance in the film before having a larger presence in the third act. I believe we see her talk to Jaime Foxx’s character once, before it’s revealed in the third act that she was “assigned to get close to him.” It’s incredibly derailing, and Foxx’s reaction of deceit and hurt is completely unjustified when there wasn’t even any kind of relationship that was established throughout the film between the two characters.
I couldn’t understand the relationship to his family either. Foxx’s daughter seems like the caricature of every child ever that has ever been in a movie, and it’s hard to tell where he stands with his (ex?) wife. I’m not even sure if they were divorced, or in the process of getting divorced, and I couldn’t tell if his wife still had feelings for him, or if she was trying to distance herself from him. Maybe the film was trying to go for a gray character that’s struggling with conflicting feelings, but instead she just came off as incredibly hot and cold. She didn’t even know Foxx’s main job was hunting vampires instead of pool cleaning, which seems absolutely absurd that he would keep that a secret from her after 10 years of marriage. Either she would have found out eventually, or she would force the truth out of him, especially with his erratic behavior.
Perhaps the largest and most controversial point of the film is the stance it tries to take on unions. Very clearly taking an anti-union stance, it’s really hard to decipher what exactly this film thinks unions are, or the commentary it’s trying to make on them. Oftentimes, large corporations try to exploit their workers for higher profits, and it’s empowering for lower wage workers to unionize and demand their worth, such as the case with many Starbucks stores around the country currently. In the rare case, some unions are incredibly powerful and keep incredibly incompetent people in positions of power where they shouldn’t be, such as the police union. Day Shift presents their depiction of a union similarly to that, in a sense that it was created to protect people who are often put in dangerous situations. But the main focus of the film is the idea that “sometimes you need to break the rules to get the job done.” The entire time I could hardly focus on what was going on, because I felt like my mind was on a mental rollercoaster trying to figure out what position this film was trying to take. Ultimately, it landed in the same area as many buddy cop films: problematic, and downright annoying.
In his directorial debut, J. J. Perry really struggles with where the film needs focus, and how to properly execute an intriguing and sensible narrative. However, as a former stunt worker, the action in this film is off the charts incredible. While the direction of the scenes can certainly take away from the excitement of the insane fight choreography, there’s one scene in particular involving Jaime Foxx’s character, Dave Franco’s character, and a set of brothers in a house battling what seems like an endless onslaught of vampires that’s stunningly entertaining, and frankly pretty cool to watch. If you’re looking for some senseless action, this film provides all of that and more.
And yet, after all these poor qualities of the film, I was still incredibly entertained. This is by no means a good movie, but it sure as hell is a very entertaining one. If anything, the confusion and absurdity to this film makes it more exciting, and the action mixed with the laughs provides for a really great time. Try watching this with friends and making fun of it as you go along, and I can guarantee you’ll have a fun time as well.