Day Shift (2022) Review: Lives up to its promise of cheesy, badass fun

Netflix’s newest big-budget summer blockbuster is here, and there’s no denying that it lives up to its promise of cheesy, badass fun. Helmed by first-time director J.J. Perry, prolific stunt coordinator/performer known best for his work in the “John Wick” films, “Day Shift” is a Jamie Foxx-starring horror comedy vehicle, with plenty of action, that hearkens back to old-school vampire fare of the late ‘90s – think “Blade” or “From Dusk Till Dawn”. Bringing a fresh take to a sub-genre that hasn’t quite had its time in the sun since the sparkly era of “Twilight”, Netflix rolls the dice on an oddball genre-bender, and the results are largely successful.

It’s shaping up to be a great month for simplistic action-packed horror, with the sci-fi thriller “Prey” (prequel to 1987’s “Predator”) hitting streaming services last week, to overwhelmingly positive reactions. In a genre currently saturated with independent art house efforts, redundant reboots, and ‘legacy sequels’, it’s nice to see some back-to-basics fun in the horror scene. And really, that is exactly what this movie is, and all it ever had to be: an exciting, funny, gory little palate-cleanser to turn your brain off to and escape. In that regard, “Day Shift” undoubtedly delivers.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Following Bud Jablonski (Foxx), a secret freelance vampire hunter, posing as a pool cleaner, who must come up with $10k for his daughter’s education before his estranged wife takes her away, the film has some genuine stakes and an emotional core that similar projects typically lack. Comparisons to Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” trilogy and the like are apt, but the movie’s heart gives it additional weight in contrast to other goofy supernatural comedies. Foxx is absolutely in his element, as well.

The Oscar-winner has proven himself more than capable in the action genre time and time again, but here, there’s a certain level of vulnerability and authenticity that makes his performance the star of the show, even amidst the carnage candy. Bud isn’t effortlessly cool like Django, or a cut-throat criminal like Bats from “Baby Driver”; he’s a desperate working-class father, and Foxx, even with a quick dry-wit and knack for killing monsters, never loses that aspect of the character.

Dave Franco makes for a pretty good sidekick as the wimpy desk jockey pulled into the violent world of undead combat, and Snoop Dogg, though given far more of a minor role than advertised, is loads of corny fun as Big John Elliot, a legend in the field of vampire hunting. However, it is J.J. Perry’s direction that ends up being the perfect pairing for Foxx’s charismatic leading man. From the opening Los Angeles establishing shots, it’s evident that this is a director with a vision, and Perry honestly astonishes in his debut feature.

DAY SHIFT. (L-R) Jamie Foxx as Bud and Snoop Dogg as Big John in Day Shift. Cr. Andrew Cooper/Netflix © 2022.

Churning out one phenomenal action set-piece after another, the film does not let up, operating at an explosive breakneck pace, and rarely slowing down to breathe. That’s what you want in a movie like this; nobody is throwing on “Day Shift” to bear witness to the beautiful acting chops of Snoop Dogg – we want action, baby! And boy does it make good on that front. From the exciting car chases and gunplay to the brilliant blood splatter and blatant disregard for physics, Perry brings a unique style from behind the lens that is worth the price of admission (rather, Netflix subscription), alone.

While the aim is certainly to wow and entertain rather than to scare, the movie never makes the mistake of mocking its vampires, retaining the golden rule for horror comedies – the threat must remain a threat. The bloodsuckers we get here may not be the most memorable, and they certainly lack a distinct visual flare, but they are not imposing. In fact, they’re downright deadly, and their movements are decidedly eerie, leaving behind, at the very least, a slightly inventive interpretation in the process. Where the movie loses points, unfortunately, is in its execution of the main villain. Karla Souza does what she can in the part of the head vampire, but the character is just too wooden and forced to ever really work. The previously fluid tone grinds to a near standstill whenever the tired antagonist enters the frame, which luckily, isn’t too frequent.

In the end, the film does get too ahead of itself, as well, relying on an unfortunate attempt at an epic third act, that mostly falls on its face. Previously electrifying practical effects and stunt work give way to lackluster CGI and narrative cliches that stick out like a sore thumb in contrast to the preceding two acts. Still, things never get too far out of hand to deem the film an irredeemable mess. Quite the opposite, to be fair. An imperfect blast from the very beginning, go check out “Day Shift” and you’ll be in for a chaotic, gruesome, wonderfully bombastic ride.

Now, let’s talk about some spoilers.

Day Shift Movie Ending, Explained

The biggest takeaway from the ending of “Day Shift” is that we could be in for a potential franchise. With Bud gaining a team of good-natured vamps by the closing credits (including Dave Franco’s Seth, who’s bitten and turned sometimes at the beginning of the third act), it seems likely that if the film is a success, this won’t be the last we see of our heroes.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

One thing is for sure, and that is vampires are still rampant in California, and Snoop Dogg himself may be one of the bloodthirsty ghouls, popping out of a manhole cover before the screen fades to black, after he was presumed dead following an encounter with a horde that left him infected. Plus, a sequel doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all. The film has its flaws, but with a tighter script, less clunky dialogue, and a more grounded scope (the premise was at its strongest when it was kept at street-level), a follow-up could easily build upon what worked and mend out the kinks here and there. Who knows, maybe an action-oriented horror series is just what Netflix needs right now.

Also Read: Netflix’s Darlings (2022): Themes and Ending Explained


Day Shift (2022) Movie Links – IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Day Shift (2022) Movie Cast – Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Meagan Good, Karla Souza

Where to watch Day Shift

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