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Day Shift Review: Jamie Foxx Slays in Netflix Vampire Movie



The cast of the vampire movie Day Shift on Netflix

Stuntmen and stunt coordinators are arguably better than anyone (outside John Woo) at directing action movies; it seems utterly obvious, but they aren’t often given the opportunity to do so. Ever since stuntman Hal Needham, who did stunts for The French Connection, convinced Burt Reynolds to let him direct Smokey and the Bandit, stunt coordinators have been making huge action films. Atomic Blonde, Extraction, Bullet Train, Hobbs & Shaw, and every John Wick have all been directed by stuntmen, and now J.J. Perry is throwing his hat into the ring with Day Shift, a new vampire horror-comedy on Netflix.

Perry brings a unique working-class sensibility to the film, a story about a father who has been kicked out of the union of vampire hunters; he now uses a job as a pool cleaner as subterfuge to disguise his renegade, unsanctioned vampire hunting. His side hustle can’t sustain his family when they need some fast cash, so he attempts to get in good graces with the union once again, ignorant to the fact that a new kind of vampire is hunting him.

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Pool Guy: Vampire Slayer might sound like a bad low-budget premise that would fall apart under the weight of its own stupidity, but it’s undeniable from the very first minutes of Day Shift how much professionalism and utter skill are on display here. If only the film could keep up with itself.

Jamie Foxx is delightful as Bud Jablonski (with assumedly no relation to the Polish molecular physicist), and seems to be having more fun than he’s had since Baby Driver. Many may have forgotten just how funny Foxx is, and how he started off as a comedic force to be reckoned with in The Jamie Foxx Show, Roc, and In Living Color. His comedic instincts haven’t aged a bit in three decades (and he looks better than ever here), as Foxx leans into the ridiculous nature of Day Shift with gusto. He has an energy similar to Bruce Willis in Die Hard here, and seemingly ad-libs some great little comic non-sequiturs throughout the film with total ease (like when he orders yogurt and asks if there’s a Black History Month discount).

Day Shift begins with Jablonski cleaning a pool before suiting up with guns and blades to investigate a house that doubles as a vampire crypt. Barely five minutes into Day Shift, Foxx blasts an old woman in the chest with a shotgun; her hand twitches, and before the dust can even settle she’s pulling herself up to the ground and revealing her true vampiric colors. This initiates what is honestly one of the best fight scenes in recent years, an incredibly choreographed and visually ingenious battle that is deliriously entertaining. This is the perfect incongruity that Day Shift aims for — a mixture of over-the-top moments, gruesome action sequences, and surprising comedy.

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Perry hired real contortionists for several of the vampires in Day Shift, and when mixed with the stuntman’s choreographic brilliance and Foxx’s own stunt work, it’s truly a sight to behold. Bodies twist in unimaginable ways, wooden bullets fly, and silver blades slice in what looks like a post-apocalyptic Cirque du Soleil bar fight. It’s an entrancing scene that’s simultaneously gory in its brutality and immensely intelligent in design, and makes for one of the best opening scenes of 2022. Unfortunately, it’s a high that is never repeated throughout Day Shift, which makes the rest of the film feel like a downward slide into superfluity.