It’s just not possible to genuinely recommend “Day Shift,” a bad horror movie streaming on Netflix in which Jamie Foxx plays a vampire hunter.
The film, directed by stuntman JJ Perry in his feature debut, has a spotty script, some laughable acting and goofy special effects. These are the things it has going against it. Not exactly points of recommendation.
But they’re also what left it to some of the bad-but-fun ’80s horror movies like “Chopping Mall” or “CHUD” The gross-out gore and wooden line readings are retro, if you squint your eyes hard enough.
And remember, all that bonkers filmmaking occasionally produced a true classic, like “Return of the Living Dead” (though that was in large part a parody — but sure is great).
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Alas, ‘Day Shift’ can’t match the low art of ‘Return of the Living Dead’
“Day Shift” doesn’t come close to that kind of low art, but it’s kind of fun if you keep your expectations buried somewhere deep underground. Like where dead people ought to be
Except here, of course, they’re not. Bud Jablonski (Foxx) is a pool guy in the San Fernando Valley — or at least that’s what he tells his wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good) and daughter Paige (Zion Broadnax). In reality he is a vampire hunter.
Bud and Jocelyn have separated, and if he can’t come up with big money for school in a few days, she’s going to leave town and take Paige with her. Luckily, there’s good money in vampire fangs, which the killers remove after dispatching them.
The good news is that Bud is good at killing vampires. But he’s a cowboy. Which leads to the bad news: his risks and inability to follow a surprisingly rigid set of rules have gotten him kicked out of the Union, a kind of guild for vampire killers.
Bud needs back in. The money the Union pays is far more than what your typical person-on-the-street collector shells out.
Bud’s friend Big John Elliott (Snoop Dogg) vouches for him and gets him back in — on the condition that he lets desk jockey Seth (Dave Franco) accompany him to ensure he follows regulations.
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Plus, Bud has to work the day shift. That’s not exactly the busy time for nocturnal creatures, and the filmmakers come up with a good idea to make it somewhat plausible (in a movie about vampires). Vampires have come up with a type of sunscreen that allows them to move about in sunlight for a few minutes. And there’s a lot of activity, as uber-vampire Paige (Karla Souza) is using her real-estate empire to somehow build an army of vampires.
I think. It’s all a little sketchy.
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Jamie Foxx and Dave Franco play mismatched buddy vampire killers
Anyway, all this sets up a mismatched-buddy comedy with beheadings and shootings and staking and all other manner of vampire death. Franco is funny enough, but it’s a tall order to overcome the cliches that his character is built upon.
Souza is miscast, and Snoop Dogg doesn’t have much to do till late in the film, though the smooth flow of his rapping translates nicely to his acting. Foxx puts a lot of effort into making Bud a desperate man willing to do anything to keep his family together. But there are a lot of threads left hanging, like when Bud, who is living in an apartment while separated from Jocelyn, gets a new neighbor (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) who seems a little odd. She invites him in and … then it’s the next day. That night he sees her talking to a suspicious looking man and … again, nothing. Of course it’s not really nothing, just business left unattended to by the filmmakers.
The best thing “Day Shift” has going for it is the best things the dopey ’80s films had going for them — a willingness not to take itself too seriously. And that only gets you so far. But who knows, maybe in 40 years this will look better in retrospect, too.
‘Day Shift’ 2.5 stars
Great ★★★★★ Good
Fair ★★★ Bad ★★ Bomb ★
director: JJ Perry.
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Snoop Dogg.
Rating: R for strong violence and gore, and language.
Note: Streaming on Netflix Aug. 12.
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