This year marks the centenary of FW Murnau’s “Nosferatu”, a long time for us humans, but only a blip for vampires.
If you were looking to celebrate the anniversary of this silent classic, which still casts a long and ominous shadow over all subsequent vampire films, you could do so with what is perhaps its exact opposite: the new comedy from Netflix action “Day Shift,” starring Jamie Foxx as the San Fernando Valley vampire hunter.
“Day Shift,” which begins airing on Friday, is much more aimed at something like “Zombieland” than Murnau. Foxx plays Bud Jablonski, a working-class Los Angeles man and divorced father who cleans swimming pools as a cover for his real job hunting vampires. They seem to be particularly populated in the San Fernando Valley, which perhaps isn’t surprising to Californians, but is about as far as you can get from the genre’s aristocratic European origins. ” has previously covered Staten Island.
“Day Shift” isn’t much about vampires, anyway. They’re mostly video game-like cannon fodder for Bud, a veteran hunter who’s good enough at killing them but much worse at hiding his true profession. He lives alone after his wife (Meagan Good), suspicious of his excuses, kicks him out. Now she’s ready to move, along with their 10-year-old daughter (Zion Broadnax), away from Los Angeles unless Bud can find $10,000 in a week for tuition and braces.
But Bud lives fang against fang. He makes his money by selling vampire teeth to what is effectively a pawn shop. He drives a turquoise pickup truck and lives, with locks on the door, in a seedy apartment complex that scares his ex. She learns that a porn star has just moved in. “They live among us,” Bud explains.
“Day Shift,” the directorial debut of former stuntman JJ Perry and written by Tyler Tice and “Army of the Dead” scribe Shay Hatten, features a familiar story – a desperate single father trying to prove his value – in a vampire movie. There’s also a comment about working somewhere here with Bud, kicked out of the Vampire Hunters Syndicate, trying to come back to get higher rates for his kills.
But the union’s subplot is less about hammering home the free market and more about providing Bud with a comedy partner. After another hunter, Big John (Snoop Dogg), helps Bud rejoin the union, a union rep (Dave Franco) is assigned to watch and ride with Bud. As a suit-wearing sidekick terrified of vampires but knowledgeable about them, Franco is a good foil for Foxx.
There’s a this-is-barely-a-story feel to Day Shift, but it’s not always unpleasant. The family plot is as basic as it gets. The buddy comedy setup — complete with banter about the “Twilight” saga — is also standard. “Day Shift” might fit somewhere around an OK episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
Still, the sloppy vibe of “Day Shift” has its charms. It’s almost perfectly designed to be the kind of thing you could, after some scrolling, absently click to watch on Netflix and finish watching for its vision ability. This is largely due to Foxx. , whose comedic timing remains on point, and supporting players like Snoop and Peter Stormare arriving, as if it were purely for fun. Barely sketched, “Day Shift” has a retro vibe. Not, like, “Nosferatu”-retro, but more 1980s. Want to see Jamie Foxx shoot vampires? Well, you’re in luck.
“Day Shift,” a Focus Features release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for its violence, gore and language. Duration: 114 minutes. Two and a half out of four stars.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP