Netflix movie “Day Shift”, which was released on last Friday, tries to have some fun with vampire hunting, but the overall result is rather colorless in my inconsequential opinion. Although it has a fair share of solid action, it could have more wit and guts for distinguishing itself more in its familiar genre territory, and the overall result accordingly feels like a mere opener for whatever will come next.
The early part of the movie mainly revolves around how its vampire hunter hero, Bud Jablonski (Jamie Foxx), earns his living day by day in San Fernando, California. Although he has been removed from a local vampire hunter union due to many violations, Bud keeps walking as usual while disguising himself as a pool cleaner on the surface, and the opening scene shows his latest vampire hunt as he sneaks into a house which turns out to be a secret nest of vampires.
Anyway, Bud subsequently sells the fangs of the two vampires killed by him in that house, but that is still not enough for supporting his ex-wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good) and their dear little daughter. While still not telling them about his real occupation, Bud really needs to secure a certain amount of money within one week because his daughter needs to pay for her necessary dental care in addition to paying her school tuition, so he comes to request help from his old friend/colleague Big John Elliott (Snoop Dogg), who happens to be one of the most prominent vampire hunters in the area.
Thanks to Big John’s help, Bud manages to be allowed into the union again, but there is a little annoying catch for him. The local head of the union, who is your average constipated bureaucrat, demands that Bud should be always accompanied with a union employee to monitor him, and that turns out to be a nerdy lad named Seth (Dave Franco). Although accompanying a vampire hunter is the last thing he wants to do right now, Seth reluctantly follows his boss’ order mainly because he really wants to get promoted as soon as possible.
What happens next between this mismatched duo will not surprise you at all if you are a seasoned moviegoer like me. As your typical by-the-book dude, Seth certainly does not approve much of how often Bud bends or breaks rules for his ultimate goal, and Bud is naturally annoyed by this while also frequently getting exasperated about Seth’s sheer inexperience and clumsiness. At one point, Seth manages to provide some little help during Bud’s latest vampire hunt, but then he also comes to embarrass himself a lot because of being so overwhelmed by those dangerous vampires.
Meanwhile, the story also focuses on an insidious conspiracy planned by a sassy and ambitious vampire named Audrey San Fernando (Karla Souza). While working as a successful real estate businesswoman on the surface, she is going to do some aggressive area expansion for herself and many other vampires under her command, and she even does not hesitate at all to kill a rival vampire of hers for getting closer to her final goal.
It is not much of a spoiler to tell you that Bud later comes to draw Audrey’s attention for a certain reason, and the movie accordingly serves us a series of action scenes as Bud and Seth fight against a bunch of vampires more than once. At one point, they happen to work along with a pair of well-known vampire hunters in one substantial vampire nest, and the movie has lots of fun with how these four characters battle against those gruesome bloodsuckers in one way or another.
This and several other action scenes in the film are handled well under the skillful direction of director J.J. Perry, who worked as an actor/stuntman for many years before making a directorial debut here. Like his fellow Hollywood stuntmen Chad Stahelski, who is incidentally one of the producers of the film, and David Leitch did in “John Wick” (2014), Perry demonstrates here that he is a good filmmaker who does know how to present actions on the screen in effective ways, and I particularly enjoyed a solid vehicle action sequence which is more impressive than whatever I saw from Michael Bay’s “Ambulance” (2022). Unlike that film, this sequence generates a substantial amount of real thrill and excitement without losing any sense of direction or physical impact, and we gladly go along with that without getting too dizzy or confused.
Unfortunately, the screenplay by Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten is rather flat without having its own substance and personality, and I must point out that the finale feels anti-climactic despite lots of actions and shootings filling the screen. At least, Jamie Foxx and several other main cast members including James Franco, Snoop Dogg, Meagan Good, Peter Stormare, and Karla Souza have some fun with their broad archetype roles, but their characters are ultimately limited by genre conventions and clichés, and this makes the movie look like a big-budget TV pilot episode full of characters in the need of more development later.
On the whole, “Day Shift” did not bore me in addition to being a fairly competent Netflix product, but it is not funny or thrilling or colorful enough compared to its many seniors including “Fright Night” (1985) and “The Lost Boys” (1987). At least, Perry shows here that he has enough skill and talent as an action movie director, and I can only hope that his next film will be more interesting and exciting than this warm-up work of his.