Day Shift, a vampire film on Netflix, adds some serious flavor to a classic action throwback

Day Shift, a vampire film on Netflix, adds some serious flavor to a classic action throwback ...

The Gray Man and Red Notice are seen as the norm for big-budget, action-oriented Netflix Originals; their recent output is often criticized as being less than movies by algorithms. Netflix's feature films have often been homogenized, four-quadrant content, designed to attract clicks based on a few familiar faces, but also enough CGI-smeared thrills to distract viewers from how bloated and uninspired nearly every aspect of these massive productions have been.

Yes, it was still conceived for a broad spectrum, with Jamie Foxx as the prerequisite big name up front. However, this film's unusual mixture of film elements does not feel like a decision made with the intention of bringing in the largest possible audience. Its more interesting for it than to an oddball cult classic like John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China.

Director J.J. Perry deserves credit for his contributions to a feature film. While this is his first time working on a feature film, he is no rookie at delivering top-notch mayhem on film. His 30-year-plus career as a stunt performer and action coordinator is virtually unparalleled in Hollywood. So when the 87eleven action design collective decided it would continue with Day Shift as its first fully branded 87eleven film project, the group reached out to Perry, a long-time member of

Perry paints the picture as a throwback to a time when stuntmen were almost California cowboys posing as vampires to sell their fangs to his local chapter of the International Union of Vampire Hunters. Bud is a working schmo trying to make ends meet while supporting his young daughter, as he is confronted with unexpected obstacles, like a gentrifying elder bloodsucker.

The refreshingly low stakes and the effortless interplay of the mundane and the supernatural are just two of the many ways Day Shift will remind savvy viewers of the many video-store classics it is so clearly a love letter to. The Lost Boys, Dead Heat, and Fright Night all receive their separate tributes, among other films. Some of these are subtle, gentle flashbacks intended for the most affluent filmmakers.

These references and homages don't live up to their names, though. Someone who has never seen the older films the script and directed nod to will still find a lot of quality subtle world-building that suggests where sequels (and spinoffs) might fit if there is a suitable demand. Scriptwriters Shay Hatten (Army of the Dead) and Tyler Tice manage this without falling into the all-too-common trap of saving it for a sequel.

Tice and Hatten never forget that action movies do need relatable characters, despite the tried-and-true mismatched partners strategy that's largely discredited. Bud is portrayed as the put-upon veteran forced to deal with Francos inexperienced pencil pusher turned field agent, Seth, in the film's comedy. The two men have an easygoing chemistry that helps their talk feel natural rather than overly clever.

Even when the plot loses some coherence in the third act in pursuit of establishing the required action conclusion, the script takes the time to give every major player in the film, even Karla Souza's nasty vampire real-estate broker, brief moments that make the film feel human.

The way Day Shift has been expressly marketed under the John Wick brand is a guaranteed draw, and action lovers lured in by the connection will be rewarded with some of 2022's finest action sequences. (See the 2021 Bob Odenkirk as badass assassin crowd-pleaser Nobody as a prime example.) They also allow supporting cast members like Dave Franco and Snoop Dogg to show off their newly earned action heroes.

Perry's wildest ideas for action have always been a bit more liberated than those of his 87eleven peers, and this shows in the ways Day Shift differs from Nobody or the John Wick films. By contrast, the supernatural setting allows him to add more exaggerated elements. Many action scenes, like a jaw-dropping daytime group raid on a suburban vampire nest (featuring an extended show-stealing appearance by DTV action superstar Scott Adkins as a fellow vamp wrecker)

The unexpectedness in this film is perfectly appropriate from a filmmaker who the stunt community affectionately dubbed Loco. None of the intricate fight scenes, intense shootouts, or wild car chases featured in the film are obscured by poor editing or unnecessary CGI. All presented clearly and precisely for maximum visual impact. It's a great return to the days when film's most valuable film magic was the fearless stunt performers risking their lives to get real thrills in front of a film camera.

Netflix's Day Shiftsplace feature will face a lot of competition for viewers' attention, with the seemingly never-ending content stream always moving on to the next film or series, without giving new releases much time in the spotlight. Hopefully, these obstacles will not prevent the potential audience from discovering it.

Day Shift is now available on Netflix.