Daylight Fades is a vampire drama that deals with the question whether love can conquer all. Or, to put is more prosaically: whether a relationship can survive the fact that one partner is a vampire and one is human. It does so by looking at one couple, but it also echoes events reaching back to another relationship one generation earlier.
Many films and TV-shows deal with the problems surrounding vampire-human relationships, but Daylight Fades is one of the few that takes the decision to rely on this issue as the only topic for its story. An unfortunate decision, in this case, as it leads to a certain emptiness that makes the film difficult to talk about – there is simply not much there. One thing, however, is for certain: the pacing in this film is completely off.
We start with a pre-title intro that could and should have been added later, as a flashback, and then we spend way over 20 minutes developing the relationship between the main characters – before the actual plot of the film begins to kick in. And when I say “developing the relationship” I do not mean that this is a gentle, slow-paced unfolding – most of it is actually in form of a montage, so the question is why do we waste so much time on this. The character of the relationship between these two people should have been displayed through their interaction, which a good writer should manage in about 5 to 7 minutes.
The reason this first act is the way it is must lie in the way the creators first formed their ideas about this story. It feels like they envisioned a series of romantic vampire novellas, with the intro and the first act of the film basically covering the contents of two whole books. I know this sounds like the film is crammed full with stuff, but it is not. The first act is actually rather empty. I know this might seem odd, but this is why I was earlier listing the film’s emptiness and its odd pacing as its most noticeable traits.
The first act is followed by a strange two-part second act, which, again, sees not much happening on the one hand while trying to tell a rather lengthy character development in too short a time on the other. Just like with the first act, you have the strange effect that the second act is too long with not much happening, while at the same time trying to tell a story-line that is not really unfolded and would have required more time anyway if it was told properly. So, everything in this film feels like it is too short and too long at the same time. The third act with its ridiculous finale is no exception.
I know very little about the process of pre-production, but it assume that the problems I have just tried to describe lie in the process of getting from story idea and script and screenplay to the actual shooting of scenes. So the filmmakers might simply not have had the necessary experience to anticipate that, however substantial an idea or a story element sounds on paper, it might still not translate to the spoken dialogue and the filmed scene. I am not sure if thorough storyboarding might have helped to avoid (or minimise) that risk?
Or maybe it is a bit of a case of not having enough feedback, not enough outside input? Writer Allen C. Gardner and director Brad Ellis are the kind of independent filmmakers who do it all by themselves. They both are producers on their own films (which they mostly shoot in Tennessee), and they are often sharing directing duties. And in Daylight Fades, Gardner is also playing one of the main characters.
The odd thing is that most of their films get pretty decent ratings on imdb (admittedly from a very small sample of votes), while Daylight Fades ranks significantly lower. If those other films really are all that much better, it is all the more perplexing that Daylight Fades ended up being such a disappointing mess.
So, in the end, it’s all a bit of a waste. The film’s basic premise is not really new, but with a good script you could build a halfway decent drama around it. But a good script is nowhere to be found. Just cringe-worthy dialogue, odd character decisions, and ridiculously melodrama. The acting is not bad at all. The entire cast (including Gardner, Matthew Stiller, Rachel Miles, Kim Justis, Dennis Phillippi, Michael Gravois, and Drew Smith) give good performances. But many are at times dragged down by the writing, and none more so than poor Rachel Miles, who is fighting a losing battle against bad lines of dialogue in almost every single scene she is in – and that’s a lot.
In terms of looks and technical aspects Daylight Fades is not the worst vampire film out there. It certainly looks very professional in terms of sets, picture quality, effects (mostly limited to fake blood), etc. Nothing here looks cheap or unprofessional. But because the writing and pacing are so bad, watching this film is a pretty challenging experience. The boredom is overwhelming, but you are unlikely to nod off as the frequent reflex to roll your eyes at all the cringe-worthy moments will keep you awake.
Overall, I would rate Daylight Fades at 3 out of 10; although for me, personally, as a viewing experience, it ranks even lower than that rating.