Review: A zombie movie in vampire’s clothing, Netflix’s Day Shift is a nightmare – The Globe and Mail

Jamie Foxx as Bud and Dave Franco as Seth in Day Shift.Parrish Lewis/Courtesy of Netflix

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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, its actually a little bit better.

Undead after undead are relentlessly shot, chopped and otherwise mutilated. The hip-hop song Body Counts 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 Californias 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.

A premise with possibilities turns out to be a formulaic dud.Parrish Lewis/Courtesy of Netflix

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 daughters 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 screenwriters handbook.

Buds a bit of a renegade. He was kicked out of the vampire killers 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, Buds 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. Hes a desk guy, not a field guy. Gee, incompatible partners thats a new comedic twist. Will they bond by the end of the film?

We dont 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. Were 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 its in Seths blood.

One might also say theres a lot of blood left on Day Shifts floor. A premise with possibilities turns out to be a formulaic dud. Bram Stoker rolls over in his grave and Bela Lugosi wouldnt even recognize this as a vampire film. As for Day Shift director Perry, hed 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 critics pick designation across all coverage. (Television reviews, typically based on an incomplete season, are exempt.)

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Review: A zombie movie in vampire's clothing, Netflix's Day Shift is a nightmare - The Globe and Mail

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