‘Day Shift’ review: high-stakes vampire romp with some fun cameos

Snoop Dogg pops up, but this 'Van Helsing'-indebted comedy didn't drive us batty

Bud Jablonski (Jamie Foxx) pretends to be a pool cleaner in LA’s San Fernando Valley, but he’s actually a maverick vampire hunter who’s broken the rules once too often. His personal life is also a shambles. Because he’s so unreliable and frequently lies to ex-wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good) – who has no idea about his real job – she’s planning a cross-country move to Florida with their daughter Paige (Zion Broadnax). If Bud doesn’t rustle up $10,000 to pay for Paige’s braces and school fees, he’ll lose his family forever, or at least have to start saving his air miles.

This action-comedy romp is exactly as formulaic as that plot summary makes it sound, but it also has a decent stab at building its own mythology. The script was co-written by Shay Hatten, who’s also worked on the John Wick movies, and Day Shift has a similar interest in rules and regulations. Because Bud has been thrown out of the national union of vampire hunters, he can only sell fangs – a lucrative commodity in the Day Shift world – for reduced rates on the black market. Desperate to drum up that $10k, he asks Big John (Snoop Dogg), a respected fellow vampire hunter who’s also an old pal, to pull some strings so he can re-join the union.

Big John comes good, but because Bud has been such a liability in the past, he’s only allowed to go out hunting accompanied by a union rep. To scupper Bud’s chances, union boss Ralph (Eric Lange) pairs him with in-house accountant Seth (Dave Franco), a squeamish pen-pusher who literally pees his pants when he sees a vamp get nuked. At this point, Day Shift essentially becomes a frothy buddy-cop movie, albeit one where vampire hunters chew on garlic so they can singe the undead with their spit.

Making his directorial debut, former stuntman and fight choreographer J.J. Perry handles the action scenes with confidence: even when they’re probably a bit too long, they pop. He also lets Foxx and Franco settle into an infectious bantering rhythm, though it’s a shame the script isn’t a whole lot funnier. Hatten and co-writer Tyler Tice don’t even give any decent lines to Snoop, who brings his usual loping charisma to proceedings without really having to try too hard. Did somebody say just eat the scenery?

Day Shift‘s ending is as predictable as its premise, though there are some surprises and nifty CGI in a final act that pits Bud against Audrey San Fernando (Karla Souza), a high-ranking vamp posing as a ruthless real estate agent – sadly, that’s probably not meant to be a satirical touch. As vampire movies go, this one doesn’t slay, but it has enough thrills, spills and playful charm not to feel like a grave mistake.

Details

  • Director: J.J. Perry
  • Starring: Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Snoop Dogg
  • Release date: August 12 (Netflix)
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