‘Day Shift’ Review – Netflix’s Vampire Comedy Favors Action Style Over Horror Substance

Netflix’s latest, Day Shift, marks longtime stunt coordinator J.J. Perry’s (John Wick: Chapter 2F9: The Fast Saga) feature directorial debut and is produced by John Wick franchise director Chad Stahelski. As if that action caliber wasn’t enough, Day Shift employs contortionists and performers from Cirque du Soleil to portray its bendy, acrobatic vampires. That results in a horror comedy that’s heavy on style and action spectacle… but slight on substance and laughs.

Jamie Foxx stars as San Fernando Valley pool cleaner Bud Jablonski. The pool cleaning gig merely fronts for Bud’s career choice: a freelance vampire slayer selling vamp fangs for profit. When estranged wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good) announces plans to move their daughter Paige (Zion Broadnax) to Florida, Bud turns to pal Big John Elliott (Snoop Dogg) to get him back in the Union’s good graces to earn enough quick cash to keep his family close. Saddled with stuffy Union rep Seth (Dave Franco), Bud soon finds himself the target of ancient über-vampire Audrey (Karla Souza), putting all their lives in jeopardy.

DAY SHIFT. (L) Dave Franco as Seth in Day Shift. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Shay Hatten and Tyler Tice’s script zips Bud along from set piece to set piece in his bid to keep his family in California while keeping his vampire slaying a secret. It’s so fast-moving that nothing has the time or room to develop beyond its action sequences. After one stylish fight scene, Seth pauses to ponder the unique circumstances of an eclectic variety of vampires cohabitating, running down a list of jargon. Bud acknowledges the weirdness of the situation but prompts them to move on to the next high-octane sequence.

The brief dialogue exchange hints at larger mythology that’s never fully explained, nor does it ever amount to anything in the story. A significant third-act set piece also visually teases a history that’s never explored.

DAY SHIFT. (L to R) Jamie Foxx as Bud, Zion Broadnax as Paige and Meagan Good as Jocelyn in Day Shift. Cr. Parrish Lewis/Netflix © 2022

Instead, Day Shift operates on low-stakes simplicity. The threadbare story is merely a vehicle to transport Bud and pals through various vampire fights. Attempts at humor don’t land as successfully as the action; an ongoing joke about pants-wetting grows tiresome, and Franco’s not quite effective as the bumbling sidekick. It makes Snoop Dogg’s noticeable, more minor part keenly felt, save for a few scant but welcome scenes. Big John brings the humor and cool factor that would’ve made for a better buddy comedy pairing; Snoop Dogg’s laid-back attitude complements Foxx’s fiery Bud well.

Overall, Day Shift makes for an easy, breezy action comedy that pays consistent tribute to The Lost Boys. There’s inventive staging for multiple vampire slaying sequences, and the unique contortions and physicality of the vampires bring some visual flair. Beyond that, it’s a straightforward, low-stakes story of thinly drawn good versus evil. The big bad never feels all that intimidating, and we’re never worried that Bud won’t prevail. The underdeveloped world-building and mythology keep everything at arm’s length. The thrills are fun at the moment, but any characters or surface-level plot details introduced are merely stepping stones meant to propel Bud forward in his quest. It makes for a serviceable but ultimately forgettable romp.  

Day Shift debuts globally on Netflix on August 12, 2022.

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