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- Day Shift
- Directed by J.J. Perry
- Written by Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten
- Starring Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Karla Souza and Snoop Dogg
- Classification R; 113 minutes
- Opens on Netflix Aug. 12
In the Netflix vampire-actioner Day Shift, Jamie Foxx plays blue-collar Bud Jablonski, a swimming pool cleaner by day and a vampire killer by, well, also day. As a vampire movie, it sucks. As a buddy film and zombie flick, it’s actually a little bit better.
Undead after undead are relentlessly shot, chopped and otherwise mutilated. The hip-hop song Body Count’s in The House is part of the soundtrack – though I lost count after two dozen vampires went down. Bud gets paid for the precious fangs he pulls from their heads, and business in California’s snoozy San Fernando Valley is booming.
Day Shift is directed by first-timer J.J. Perry, heretofore known as a martial artist, stuntman, fight choreographer and action actor. He sticks to what he knows here. Endless fight scenes are interrupted only long enough to squeeze in a chase sequence.
The scriptwriters did Perry no favours, Lengthy swaths of dialogue are consumed by tedious exposition on vampire types and the ways they can be killed. Foxx, a gifted comedic actor, is rarely given anything funny to say. Neither is co-star Dave Franco, which is fine because zingers would have been wasted on him anyway.
The gist of the story is that Bud needs to quickly raise money to pay for his young daughter’s dentistry and private schooling. Unless he comes up with $10,000 within a week, his estranged wife is taking the child to Florida. So, we have an established deadline – ergo, tension – and a flawed, family-loving hero we can root for. Straight out of the screenwriter’s handbook.
Bud’s a bit of a renegade. He was kicked out of the vampire killer’s union because he failed to follow the rules when it came to hunting down neck biters. Fortunately, his friend (the vampire-slaying cowboy Big John Elliott, played with the requisite swagger by rap music icon Snoop Dogg) uses his considerable influence to get Bud back into the union. Unfortunately, Bud’s jerk of a boss saddles him with a pitiful sidekick, setting him up to fail.
His new associate is Seth, a regulation-spouting nerd played by Franco. He’s a desk guy, not a field guy. Gee, incompatible partners – that’s a new comedic twist. Will they bond by the end of the film?
We don’t have to wait that long, not even close. When Bud lets Seth in on his predicament, Seth senses vulnerability in his tough-guy partner. “You told me your secrets,” he gushes. “We’re like a team … like Crockett and Tubbs.”
No, not like that suave Miami Vice duo. More like the mismatched characters portrayed by Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in Ride Along and its insufferable sequel. Bud eventually accepts Seth as a bona fide vampire killer, though. One might say it’s in Seth’s blood.
One might also say there’s a lot of blood left on Day Shift’s floor. A premise with possibilities turns out to be a formulaic dud. Bram Stoker rolls over in his grave and Bela Lugosi wouldn’t even recognize this as a vampire film. As for Day Shift director Perry, he’d be wise to not give up his day job.
In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a critic’s pick designation across all coverage. (Television reviews, typically based on an incomplete season, are exempt.)